Sunny skies and seasonal temperatures brought a record crowd of 84,000 to the sixth annual Rutgers Day where visitors learned what the state university – with its expanded mission of medical education and transition into the prestigious Big Ten Conference – has to offer.
The popular spring event kicked off in the morning on College Avenue with brightly decorated floats and members of the Rutgers Marching Band, the ROTC Color Guard, dance team, cheerleaders and costumed figures from Rutgers’ history making their way from Brower Commons to the Voorhees Mall. Three sharp staccato blasts of a whistle and they were off, pompoms waving, tubas glinting in the crisp, clear light.
“I’m very proud to wear this uniform, and show people what we do,” said Ryan McCarver a sophomore from Glassboro and a representative of Rutgers Air Force ROTC, carrying a red and white welcoming banner.
With nearly 500 programs, the university’s annual welcome and show-and-tell for New Jersey residents of all ages had something to please every member of the family. This year, those who attended the daylong event were able to navigate and plan where to find parking, exhibits, performances and food with a new Rutgers Day mobile app that allowed them to see every program relative to where they were on campus.
By early afternoon, the “Big Time Academics, Big Ten Athletics” white tent was a hub of activity on the Voorhees Mall as students, alums and their families came to learn what Rutgers’ July 1 debut in the Big Ten conference means to the university at which football began 145 years ago.
“I can see Rutgers getting much more recognition nationwide,” said Rutgers senior David Sisto, of Clinton, a finance major.
This was the first Rutgers Day since the creation of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) last July. For the medical and health science buffs spending the day at the university, neurosurgeons from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School offered Brain Surgery for/on Dummies.Using highly sophisticated computer simulators visitors to the College Avenue campus were able to see just how brain and spine surgery are done.
On the Busch Campus visitors were able to take a closer look at the mysteries of the brain with a team from the Neurological Institute of New Jersey at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who asked participants to perform surgery by playing a game and not harming the patient.
“Getting out into the community to give patients more insight into what we do is invaluable,” said Barry Levin, professor and interim chair of the school’s Department of Neurology and Neurosciences.
Meanwhile at Rutgers School of Engineering – where the Federal Aviation Administration has authorized engineers to test unmanned drones – those who stopped by were able to see a reconnaissance and photography drone on display at the Busch Campus and use a flight simulator to try and keep a plane from crashing.
Rutgers Day also celebrated the New Jersey Folk Festival which marked its 40th anniversary. Students from East Asian, Spanish, African, Middle East and French special-interest houses in the Global Village Learning Community on the Douglass Campus shared their language and cultural experiences. And as part of the anniversary celebration, Bulgaa Altangerel, the Mongolian ambassador to the United States, attended as a special guest.
Joanna Regulska, vice president for international and global affairs at Rutgers, said she hopes the ambassador’s visit will provide an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with the country. She was one of several dignitaries from Rutgers who met with Altangerel during his visit.
Meanwhile, Marissa Letinski, president of the Rutgers Undergraduate Food Science Club, spent the day at the Food Science building on the Cook/Douglass campus explaining the connection between food and science to those who dropped by for the homemade Tahitian Vanilla, Blueberries and Cream and Cappuccino Ice Cream.
“Everything you eat from the supermarket, a food scientist has developed, reformulated and made healthy.” Letinksi told the crowd.
The day ended with more than 11,500 fans at High Point Solutions Stadium for the Scarlet and White spring football game where Special Olympics New Jersey sent two teams of Olympians to play the final five minutes with a game of flag football. The Big Ten Network handed out free T-shirts following the game and fans had the opportunity to get autographs from their favorite Scarlet Knights and receive the 2014 Rutgers football team poster.