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State Funding Helps Make Rutgers’ Science Complex Become a Reality

Newark, NJ, October 25, 2013 — Lawrence Lerner reports that a $59 million state-of-the-art science facility will soon become a reality for Rutgers-Newark after spending nearly 15 years on the drawing board.

Three chancellorships and one state bond-issue later, plans for the Life Sciences II building have finally emerged, fulfilling a vision that will modernize the Rutgers-Newark campus, making it an attractive teaching and research hub in the sciences.

The concept for Life Sciences II was first introduced in 2001 when then-Provost Norman Samuels drafted a Master Plan for the Life Sciences at Rutgers-Newark to expand those facilities over the short- and medium-term.

That plan gave rise to Life Sciences I, a 67,000-square-foot gleaming glass-and-limestone building that opened in 2006 and housed cutting-edge chemistry and biology research labs, offices, and chemistry teaching labs and classrooms.  The building (at 225 University Ave.) is also home to the cell biology wing of that department, which serves as the driving force behind the cellular biodynamics program.

Life Science I’s north façade was left unadorned, in anticipation of the addition of Life Sciences II next to it.

But that project went dormant until mid-2012.  The project was resurrected by a state bond-issue referendum, which New Jersey voters approved in November 2012 to the tune of $750 million for construction at the state’s colleges and universities.  It was the first time in 24 years that the state borrowed for college construction projects.

In anticipation of the vote, Rutgers-Newark hired an architectural firm to prepare a concept document for Life Sciences II, knowing the campus needed a shovel-ready project in the pipeline to be considered for the bond money.

Once the bond issue passed, the plan was immediately submitted to Rutgers President Robert Barchi’s Capital Planning Committee, which reviewed eligible projects for funding.  In February 2013, the Rutgers Board of Governors made its official request to the state for $410 million to fund construction and renovation of academic facilities, listing Life Sciences II among its top three priorities.

Two months later, Gov. Chris Christie submitted a list with more than $1.27 billion in higher-education construction projects to the Legislature for its approval.  Rutgers received $357 million, with $67 million in additional monies earmarked for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), much of which Rutgers was absorbing.

In that package was $59 million for Rutgers-Newark’s long-held dream:  Life Sciences II.

The new facility will be sandwiched between Life Sciences I, Boyden Hall, and Aidekman Hall, which houses the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neurosciences.  It will connect all three buildings via their respective first floors and become the nucleus of a five-building Life Sciences complex, taking into account Olson Hall, which is already connected to Life Sciences I.

For Lerner’s complete story, click here.