Largest Gift in Athletics History Enables Build of
Gary and Barbara Rodkin Center for Academic Success
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 5, 2018) – The largest gift in Rutgers Athletics history – $15 million – will serve to support the academic achievements of Rutgers’ approximately 700 student-athletes via the construction of the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Center for Academic Success, it was announced today. The building to be constructed on the Busch Campus will consolidate all academic support services for Athletics in a single building. The Center will also house training facilities for the men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse programs and offices for athletics’ administration.
“It’s fitting that the largest gift in Athletics history is focused on the academic success of our student-athletes,” said Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs. “Gary and Barbara wanted to marry their two passions, academics and athletics. This facility will enable us to build a best-in-class academic support program. Rutgers is committed to student-athlete success while in the classroom and later in life after they have finished competing for the Scarlet Knights. We are incredibly grateful to Gary and Barbara for their wonderful generosity. Hopefully, their giving will inspire others, as we continue to write a great chapter in Rutgers Athletics history.”
“Among my highest priorities has been to improve the academic resources for all our students,” said Rutgers University President Robert L. Barchi. “This gift from Gary and Barbara will further our aspiration to be recognized as one of the world’s premier universities. I want to thank the Rodkins for their remarkable leadership in helping our student-athletes achieve the highest academic standards.”
Gary and Barbara Rodkin provided the cornerstone contribution to enable Rutgers to achieve its goal of a state-of-the-art student-athlete academic support program. Both graduates of The State University of New Jersey, Gary (RC ’74) and Barbara (DC ’76) have been major supporters of programs across the University, including Rutgers Future Scholars, Douglass Residential College, Rutgers Honors College, an endowed chair at the School of Engineering, the Center for Social Justice and LGBT Emergency Fund, and the Big Ten Build.
“Barbara and I are very pleased with the progress Bob Barchi and his excellent team have made, and where the Strategic Plan is headed,” said Mr. Rodkin. “We have been very fortunate in our lives and we want to share. That’s very fundamental to who we are. We much prefer to do this now, rather than later in life, so we can see and experience the impact on our students and university for many years to come.”
“Rutgers is where our family began,” said Mrs. Rodkin. “We met in the library. I was a senior in 1976, after Gary had graduated, during the basketball team’s Final Four season. I could get a ‘date ticket’ to a game in the Barn for a dollar. I have always been suspicious that he continued to date me for those tickets.”
The Gary and Barbara Rodkin Center for Academic Success will serve all student-athletes and provide a range of resources. It will support environments for academic advising, learning specialists, one-on-one and group tutoring, workshops and seminars, team study halls and a computer lab. The facility will also include an expansive lounge area to foster peer-to-peer learning among student-athletes from all sports.
“The great state universities pride themselves on excellence, both in academics and athletics,” said Mr. Rodkin. “Being a successful student-athlete is a difficult balancing act. These young men and women represent us. We feel a responsibility to help provide the resources necessary for them to achieve on the playing surface and in the classroom.”
“Most of our student-athletes are not going to play professionally or compete in the Olympics,” said Mrs. Rodkin. “It’s very important they graduate and contribute to their communities. We trust that many will become leaders in whatever field they choose to pursue.”
The facility will be located directly across from High Point Solutions Stadium on Scarlet Knight Way, on the northern border of Athletes’ Glen.
The Gary and Barbara Rodkin Center for Academic Success will be the second facility to rise via “R B1G Build,” a comprehensive campaign launched on Jan. 20, 2016 to raise $100 million for new or upgraded facilities. The initiative has raised $92,053,647 via both public and private support thus far.
“We strongly believe that the success in athletics not only instills pride in our 500,000 alumni, but across the entire state of New Jersey,” said Mr. Rodkin. “We really hope that this gift inspires other alumni and New Jersey residents to give what they can. Rutgers is already recognized as a great public University, and we want to help make it second to none.”
“We also hope this shows that you don’t have to pick between academics and athletics when giving,” said Mrs. Rodkin. “You can do both, or either. “At the end of the day, you are making life better for all Rutgers students.”
Construction is progressing on the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center at Rutgers University, located adjacent to the Rutgers Athletic Center and the Business School, and slated for completion in 2019. A partnership between Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health to create a comprehensive sports medicine program to serve Rutgers and communities throughout New Jersey, the 295,000-square-foot, four-story sports facility and parking deck will provide state-of-the-art practice facilities for men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling and gymnastics.
An emphasis that student-athletes reach full potential, not only athletically, but academically and personally, has been fundamental under Hobbs’ leadership. Rutgers was the only Division I school to have its men’s lacrosse, wrestling and women’s soccer programs all ranked in final coaches polls in the most recently completed academic year. A school-record eight programs earned NCAA recognition by posting multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores in the top 10 percent and thirteen programs either tied or set program records for their multiyear APR rates. In between their athletic and academic achievements, Rutgers student-athletes made 89 community appearances and performed 5,108 hours of community service.