The history of Rutgers is the history of the nation, a story that begins in the political maelstrom of colonial America; hurtles through the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, and two world wars; wrestles with the social upheaval of the second half of the 20th century; and emerges in the fast-paced universe of today’s global digital age. Delve into the rich history of Rutgers and experience nearly 250 years of tradition and innovation.
Operating Status Update
Tuesday, January 27
Rutgers University’s Level 4 Closure ends Tuesday, January 27 at 5pm. Essential and Non-Essential Employees should report to work as scheduled.
Day and evening classes remain cancelled on Tuesday, January 27 and will resume on Wednesday, January 28.
Visit the operating status page for more info.
Colonial America to Post-American Revolution: 1766 to 1825
Rutgers was chartered as Queen’s College in 1766, a decade before the American Revolution, as a private institution with Dutch theological roots. The college’s colonial founders, teachers, and students fought Revolutionary War battles and endangered their lives by speaking out against British tyranny. Queen’s College became Rutgers College in 1825, in honor of Henry Rutgers, a Revolutionary War colonel and Rutgers benefactor.
Key Dates: 1766 to 1825
1766 The college is chartered
1770 The second charter
1771 The first class is held
1774 The first commencement
1776 Caught up in the American Revolution
1786 The first president
1807 The cornerstone is laid for Old Queens
1825 The college is renamed Rutgers College
Industrial Revolution: 1826 to 1909
As the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s transformed the nation, Rutgers responded, with the new Rutgers Scientific School winning designation as New Jersey’s land-grant college. New courses were added in the practical arts and sciences, agricultural sciences, constitutional and international law, and engineering to prepare a new kind of workforce for the nation’s expanding businesses, factories, and farms. Geology Hall was built to house a science museum and laboratories for the physical sciences. Social and sports activities became more important, reflecting a more modern age. Rutgers’ ties with the Dutch Reformed Church waned, while ties with the State of New Jersey strengthened.
Key Dates: 1826 to 1909
1826 Literary societies flourish
1830 The sciences enter the curriculum
1840 Dutch Reformed Church control begins to loosen
1863 The impact of the Civil War is felt
1864 New Jersey’s land-grant school is established
1869 The first intercollegiate football game is played
1881 For the first time, admission of women is proposed
1909 The Engineering Building opens
The Two World Wars and Beyond: 1910 to 1952
Through the two world wars of the 20th century, Rutgers University–New Brunswick came to the nation’s aid, developing curricula and training protocols to ready military forces. In the last year of World War I, the New Jersey College for Women was founded, evidence of the growing power of the American woman. Many Rutgers students contributed to both war efforts, and after World War II, Rutgers experienced explosive growth as students on the G.I. Bill flocked to what was now The State University of New Jersey. New schools opened and graduate education began to flourish to meet the demand for broader forms of higher education. By midcentury, a comprehensive research university was emerging.
Key Dates: 1910 to 1952
1917 World War I shakes up the student body
1918 New Jersey College for Women is founded
1925 College to University
1930 Enrollment gains
1935 Progress despite the Depression
1944 Rutgers throws itself into World War II
1945 The State University of New Jersey
1946 Students flood to Rutgers on the G.I. Bill
1952 Nobel Prize goes to alumnus/professor
The Turbulent Generation: 1953 to 1989
The tumultuous 1960s and 1970s brought a heightened awareness of societal needs long unmet. Livingston College was founded in 1969 as a cutting-edge institution, offering admission to a wider pool of students and focusing on rising disciplines such as community development and computer science. Extensive construction on both sides of the Raritan River enabled more students to live and learn on campus. Rutgers College went coeducational in 1972. In 1989, Rutgers was invited to join the Association of American Universities, acknowledgment of Rutgers University–New Brunswick’ ascent to the ranks of the nation’s leading research universities.
Key Dates: 1953 to 1989
1959 Bonds for buildings
1965 End of in loco parentis
1969 Livingston College opens
1972 Women arrive at Rutgers College
1976 Mason Gross School of the Arts founded
1981 Centralization of academic departments
1989 Association of American Universities
The New Millennium: 1990 to present
As the 21st century dawned, Rutgers embraced the Information Age, undertaking a $100 million networking project that has made possible today’s digitally driven living, learning, research, and outreach. Rutgers also took the time to refocus on the core values that underlay its founding mission—the education of undergraduates. Through the Transforming Undergraduate Education initiative, begun in 2004, Rutgers reinvigorated the undergraduate experience with a single liberal arts school, the School of Arts and Sciences, as well as other innovations, including the Douglass Residential College. In 2013, Rutgers entered a new era with the integration of most of the units of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. As part of that integration, a new university division, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, was created. This medical and health care powerhouse is closely aligned with Rutgers University–New Brunswick.
Key Dates: 1990 to present
1990 Research reaches new heights
1994 Two Rhodes Scholars
1995 Oldest human tools
2000 A data network for the digital age
2004 Transforming undergraduate education
2009 Rutgers Day debuts
2010 Countdown to the 250th anniversary
2013 A stronger Rutgers