Bill Campbell Interview
Interview of Bill Campbell, Class of '72, Graduate studies 1978-
Date of Interview: January 29, 2004
Interviewers: Taryn Curry, Bonnie McCay, Lauren Mohl
Transcribed by Taryn Curry, February 5, 2004
Edited B. McCay October 14, 2004
Q. What is your relationship to Cook College ?
BC: I got out of the Marine Corps in 1969, I had a year at Rutgers College which was unacceptable to me and I came and just before I got out of the service I applied here, and I was conditionally accepted. And came to school here and graduated three years later with honors
Q. So you had a year at Rutgers College before you went to the Marines?
BC: Correct. Did a lot of bridge games, not to mention a few parties here and there. I am also the founder, one of the founders, of the Cook Alumni Association.
Q. Why did you choose to go to Cook instead of going back to Rutgers College?
BC: I hated Rutgers College . I really hated Rutgers College . You got to realize from a perspective of …, Rutgers is an inanimate object that has no soul, for lack of a better way of putting it. You got to realize that my father at the time was mayor of Piscataway and he and Mason Gross, president of the college, spoke on a first name basis. And it didn't matter: I still got kicked out college for cutting classes ‘cause my car broke down. I had a hell of a time trying to do a few things, and Cook didn't require a [foreign] language, and I'm a little dyslexic and never liked Italian or Spanish or any of the others, and they had an economics program, and they sounded palatable, and they had a whole lot of human beings that took an interest.
For example the first person I met was Roger Locandro. Well, the first person was Dick Merritt, who looked at my grades and threw me out the first time I saw him. The first time I met with anyone it was Roger Locandro, and the next I know I get a letter in the mail that says instead of working for the summer, and making some money so I can have enough money for the next two semesters, you will immediately go to summer school and take three courses. I said that'll be wonderful, except then I don't have time to work and do this at the same time and the next thing I knew I was actually back in Dick Merritt's office which was never fun. He picked up the phone and called somebody and said, “Reggie [Reginald Bishop, at Rutgers College ], don't do things like this, this is a good person and let's take a chance on this. We've discussed this before and you should not have sent that letter out without asking me. I would not have allowed that.” This is good, don't let me down. And I didn't.
But that's the attitude of the people here. It hasn't changed. The faces may change, but that attitude that they are here for a purpose: that purpose is making you better, educating you, and getting you your degree, etcetera. That's not necessarily the case at Rutgers College . There are special needs of certain people and certain people thrive in an environment like this. I know most people have. I also was a founder of the alumni association; my son went to school and still works here. I have had contact with this college on and off since 1969.
Q. So how did Cook College get started?
BC: I was in on that. The relationship between the College of Agriculture, the College of Engineering, and the College of Arts and Sciences had never been what anyone would call cordial. On the one hand, in agriculture you have applied scientists; engineering, some of them are theoretical, but they are all scientists with a very definite science bent and they understand and appreciate and respect applied sciences. ....
BC: [Referring to a dispute over the “federated plan” in New Brunswick ]: …. it started what was a small war going on. At the time we were looking for a [dean] of the college and everything else and I think Mason Gross… I don't remember if he had left already or not but it was right around the same time. I remember sitting in a meeting one time and everybody was sitting there wondering how we can start a college here. And I remember saying well, there's enough money for four more colleges on the Rutgers campus, I don't think that money has to be used for Piscataway . You don't have to say much more than something like that to Dick Merritt or Charlie Hess. I might not have been the one who was to first to have said it, but they were smart enough to have found that in 1964 or 65 there was a bond issue making five new colleges in the New Brunswick area, so it was said. It was probably 1965. It was probably for the purposes of Camp Kilmer . The first of those was Livingston College . So then we got the right politicians together, got the right people at Rutgers to appreciate the responsibility of building a college around the College of Agriculture . Boy they did a good job. [They] did a marvelous job.
Q. What do you think was so special about Cook?
BC: I think that what's special at Cook is people. Both the people here and the people who go to school here. There is a remarkable way that things happen. Take for example Bruce Hamilton. A lot of people in a lot of places would have strangled him by now. In this place they appreciate him. He's less a case of an eccentric: he does the right thing. Rutgers University has never been big on doing the right thing. For example, they convinced Johnson & Johnson in the mid fifties to build that god-awful administration building of theirs on George Street . The big white one? No, the big Dutch colonial right behind that, which happens to be the largest building of that type of architecture in history. Which is also one of the ugliest buildings for an architect to try and figure out what goes on inside. But it matches what goes on on the Rutgers campus. Before the first persons that sat down in their office at Johnson & Johnson, [ Rutgers ] College built Scott Hall right in front of the President's office so he could see it in a modern architectural style. He said, “Wait a minute, you talked us into this god-awful style and then you build that.” And they said, “Well, we don't have the money for that.” And that's the attitude they have had all along. Not do the right thing, do what they feel like doing. And really it comes down to that and that's why a lot of people here have a difficult task with them. They've always had the attitude that the grass is always greener over someone else's septic tank rather than over their own.
Dick McCormick is a unique departure to become president of this university. …Mason Gross got there because they were afraid he wasn't going to do it. They were afraid that the other candidates for the job would have changed the nature and the character of the university and made it different. They liked the status quo, only to find out that Mason Gross outdid all of what anyone else could do in that regard and really changed the character of what went on in the university and made some very unique contributions to this place. Mason Gross was President before Bloustein, and Bloustein was president before Lawrence . Mason Gross was an obscure philosopher who was best known for the fact that he was an extremely bright man and he was the judge on a quiz show on television.
Q. What show? Not that I would know it.
BC: You might. Can't think of the name of it right now. It was on Saturday nights. You could see him sitting there. He was well known and they brought him in and they never realized that he would do what he did through the colleges. He would change things. Bloustein made some contributions in that way. Lawrence was there.
That's what special. Why was it created that way? Mainly because we had a good thing going. We were special. We thought of ourselves as different and special. [It was] less a case of trying to be special than trying to do what we perceived as the right way to be. Just the interaction of where your advisors come from. The size of the classrooms. The way everything like that is structured is for the needs of the people, not the needs of the budget. It was a very effective way to do things. I mentioned to Bob Koch's wife in October that it's not an accident that Bob Koch was the chairman of that department in ag economics. It was the largest in the college. A lot of it was his personality of helping people and making sure that people did things right. The affection and love for people like Roger Locandro or Dick Merritt or others was the same way at every department. Every department had someone just like him.
Q. So you were an economics student?
Q. How do you think that attitude got here? Was it from the beginning?
BC: Yeah. It couldn't be anything else. Dick Merritt went to school that way back in the dark ages. Then Roger, then myself, then you people. But nothing has changed.
Q. At the times that the school was formed, how did you envision what the school would be like? Was it a concept at that point?
BC: It was a lot more than a concept. From day one we knew what we had and we were going to build on it. We knew what was done in the past on Livingston and we wanted to build upon what is best about Livingston and avoid their errors. Since it was documented it was easy. That goes from dormitories to everything else. At that point in time the only thing we had here was a few rooms in the Dairy building and Helyar House for on-campus living. Everybody either lived in an apartment or in Rutgers housing. Big difference today.
Q. Where did you live?
Q. So you commuted?
BC: Yeah, well at that point I had an apartment in Highland Park.
Q. Do you think that changed the way you saw the school, being a commuter rather then a resident?
BC: No, I was over here most of the time.
Q: When you were at Rutgers for the one year, did you live on campus then?
Q. So how do you think Cook differed from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science?
BC: Very little other then the diversity. Really hasn't changed much. I was fascinated in October  listening to the people who graduated in 71-74' speak about their feeling and emotions [at the Founders 30 th Anniversary gathering]. The most shocking of them were four women. Natalie Rudolph, Syd Evans, and two others. They talked of how they were handling everything. Phyllis Nieradka McCabe probably put it best: that she had real problems finding herself in the environment of Douglas College and Rutgers …. And she didn't know what she had until maybe later in life when she could look back appreciate what we've taught her and everything else. It says that all the women's issues and all .. that goes on in Douglas really hasn't changed a lot of that. [It] really hasn't put it in maybe a better perspective then it needs to be. And all four of these women, Mary Harmer (sp) the same, understood it and handled it superbly.
It made me think that maybe we should build a Helyar House or something just like that for women and let them handle that for themselves. Well, parenthetically, they tried to have a co-op. These women created one right at Corwin. And they had it for a couple of years and then Cook was created so they had apartments there and that was the end of it.
I remember talking to a girl one time that came to work for me when Dan Rossi and I were working together, [a young woman] who had been sexually abused by a bunch of guys just because she went to a party. And they were the most popular guys on campus and she was afraid to say something. I said don't say anything, I'll take a shotgun and go over there with it. I would be more then happy do something. I have no tolerance for that, maybe it's because I have four sisters, but I just don't have any tolerance for people like that. ________‘s son found out that he didn't have any tolerance for it either. You know that's an attitude and a perspective. It's what you think about people and my guess is that maybe….
You know some years ago we used to have one-credit courses here. A lot of odd things. One of Dick Merritt's ideas before that was to have a noon Wednesday's symposium for the whole campus. Everybody had to come to one place and listen to a lecture; some of them were dull and some of them were fascinating. Maybe it's not so bad. It's probably still working for me.
The year he did that somebody kept playing cards [during the Wednesday symposium], and he never could find the guy. I remember he used to raise hell when I was a senior about that and I didn't have the heart to tell him it was me. It was in the Douglass chapel. You know, on the top you have the little balcony; well, if you sit on the floor behind the seats, he can't see you. It didn't become a problem until somebody yells, “shit I got the bitch”—we were playing hearts. He lost it. It woke him up; it was a very dull lecture. Usually it was quiet enough so that nobody knew it was going on. It was one of those days, but it was three guys from landscape architecture, during my junior year. One of them runs Princeton University now, one of them used to run NYU, and the other is out in Colorado . I remember him screaming and yelling about it, and a year later he still yelled about it. I never told him who it was. Someday I'll tell him. But we played cards through many of his lectures.
Q. What other kind of one-credit courses did they offer?
BC: I took “Edible and interesting plants” and “Edible and interesting meats” with Roger Locandro, which was fascinating. I took a couple of turf grass courses, which were wonderful. But they had those in every discipline.
Q. Were they interactive?
BC: Yeah, they were basically to get an understanding of that department. You weren't allowed to take them in your major.
Q. It was like an interest thing?
BC: Yeah, so that you get a better perspective. One or two of the one credit courses a semester right across the board. They were all fascinating. They were very well done.
Q. How did the Alumni Association come to be?
BC: Well, somebody down at Rutgers decided that most of the colleges here were asking that we go beyond the RAA (Rutgers Alumni Association). At the time it was an all-encompassing group for everything in the three cities that was Rutgers University : Newark , New Brunswick , and Camden campuses. At RAA you even got a little bit of Patterson at the time. Fine organization and I still belong to RAA.
And all of a sudden I got a phone call one day. It was from Dick Merritt, who said, “Would you like to come to the meeting of the first alumni association?” I said, “Sure.” “Good, you are secretary.” And six of us meet, and we started organizing the thing. What was fascinating in the beginning was that every time we held an executive committee meeting, Dick Merritt, one of the deans of the college, was there. At the time Charlie Hess was there [as dean], he never missed a meeting. He was delightful.
Ed Bloustein was there for every meeting. [Bloustein], the president of the university, came, had dinner with us, and sat with us; he made us feel proud. We got to know him extremely well, and most of us till the day he died loved our relationship with him. He was a fine and good man. He stopped coming to meetings after he had a heart attack. He was told to lighten up a bit. The other thing that was the problem with that was that he realized he didn't need alumni associations to do his job one way or the other. He didn't need to know what they thought because they would never be powerful enough to make change, so he ignored them. I think that was a part of his downfall. Or part of where he was still effective as President of the University, but not as “kinder or gentler” as he was [before]. Case in point: he had decided to take all the lands from here to Route One and give them to Squibb in return for 200 acres in Cranbury. So, the people here felt strongly enough that this was a mistake that we had decided to secede from Rutgers and start the College of Agriculture of the State of New Jersey . Just pull the land grant college out from Rutgers and we'll give this land to Squibb or Rutgers , or anyone that wants it. We'll start our own college with that land grant institution thought. The next thing you know we held a meeting. There was an emergency call made from the president of the alumni association to Dan Rossi and I who were about three miles north of the meeting. He said, “Come down here, go to the meeting.” We walked in, and the secretary of agriculture is there, there are a dozen senators and assemblymen, and there's a prominent person both from the college and from every walk of life.
Q. What was your position at this time?
BC: I was just part of the alumni association executive committee. I was representing the alumni with Dan. Dan did not work here then; he was working for me in a marketing research firm I managed. He and I went to the meeting, and we made the decision that if Rutgers goes ahead with what they want, we'll make sudden changes within the structure of this college. We'll go through the legislature and win. I had made phone calls to some prominent people in the state and I had the backing of at least the Middlesex County area. We represented more then half the state and 70% of the votes in the state legislature; it was done. At that meeting it was done, if we wanted, we were out of Rutgers .
What's shocking was that in a day and a half we marshaled the support to do this. I mean I made a few phone calls and said, “You owe me, you'll vote for this.” And I'm not kidding. And I said one thing at the end of the meeting. I said, “Look, with all due respect, Ed Bloustein is a good man and a friend, don't ever disrespect him, don't ever misunderstand him. Within an hour, when the last of us walks out of this room one of us will have picked up the phone and played Pontius Pilate and told him everything that went on in this meeting. By tomorrow he will have a plan against this, or a plan to solve this problem. Now my guess is he'll solve it.” And at 6:30 in the morning he solved it.
[H]e had called the board of managers of Cook College and the board of agriculture, and the two met the next morning and he said, “This is my plan. Does anybody like it?” And they all said, “Yes, fine. No, we're not getting any land here, we're not taking the land down at Cranbury, we're not going to do that,” and he said “Thank you have a nice day.”
More important than that the structure of the college changed. The structure of the way things happen changed and it happened in a flash. It was remarkable. It also showed the power of where he was relative to where an awful lot of people thought they were.
Q: What do you mean by “it changed the structure of the college”?
BC: It gave the administration here certain powers that normally would have been done from College Avenue. Certain functions, I don't know what they are, I'm not the guy to do that. I'm not the person. But it made us a little more autonomous [this concerns the 1982 reorganization in New Brunswick ]. The one thing it did change was that people who taught English or history or things like that were [moved] into the FAS [“Faculty of Arts and Sciences”] segment of the University, or given different roles here. For example, there is a gentleman by the name of Tom Matro, I think he taught English. Fine man. He now teaches gifted and talented: he runs the honors program at Cook. We made accommodations to make sure that he didn't go to FAS; he stayed at Cook College . His son and mine went to school together, grammar school, nursery school.
McC [McCay, to the student interviewers]: What Bill is referring to now is the reorganization of Rutgers, New Brunswick back in 1982… 1981. It happened right around the same time as this land issue. But that reorganization meant that the humanities and the social sciences that we had at Cook, would go to other departments and leave Cook College , but we were able to stay here. It was a war.
BC: I have been in politics all my life in this area and I just called my next door neighbor David Schwartz, who is an assemblyman, and said, “This is the vote you are going to go on, David. You will do this.” He said okay. “Now look I don't care, it's never going to come to a vote, but say you are aware of it and you've committed to something, just don't say anything else.” As soon as he (Bloustein) found out from Schwartz that they have already taken care of all the rural areas, it was a done deal. The amazing thing was that in the state legislature, there was no one that said no. The idea of starting a separate college was a very positive thing for them.
McC: There was a movement, and he (Bill Campbell) was major part of it, to split Cook off from the rest of Rutgers.
BC: Well, no. We were into that very simply. The proposal we had was, this is what we want. This is what we will accept period, to stay at Rutgers . If this doesn't happen we're gone. And that's it. Why are those lands important to us? It's not a fetish: you can't expect to get in a bus and ruin your day, to learn in Cranbury. You can walk to the display gardens here, they are that important here. It had nothing to do with education. There are cows there; cows are being replaced by horses because there are more horses then cows in New Jersey . There are only two pig farms left in New Jersey . They were both in prisons, so we don't spend a lot on research in pigs anymore. We used to because it was something we trained people for and oddly enough it probably is something we should train for because majority of people that sell products for the pig industry are in New Jersey.
There were some very definite principles; this is our standard. If Rutgers wants to go along with our standard, fine, and that's always been the case. We've always believed we're right, especially on something like this. We're not hare brained. Bruce Hamilton taking that building across the street [the Cook Campus Center ] and saying, “Don't tear down the trees for 50 feet around the building, be more cognizant of what you have to do there. Already, you are in a wetlands and shouldn't be here. If you are going to be here, avoid this.” They looked at what they had to do, and they did it right. And that is very often what we are asking them to do. I still wonder how they ever got that office building over there, that big one right behind you.
BC: Foran Hall. How did they sneak that in instead of across the street?
McC: Much of that was a parking lot. We took away a parking lot.
BC: I know. I liked that parking lot. It never should have gone there. I wondered where that ever came from when I saw it at the first meeting this year. Most of the time we try to do things with that principle.
One interesting thing as I look at this [list of questions]: memorable experiences. I still think my graduation was more memorable then anything else. Not sure I ever expected to do that. Also, it was the first one at Cook College . I actually headed up the committee to put it together. It was a fascinating experience putting that together because we set the first one up. It had never been done before. The hardest part was the prayers we had to do to get the sunshine. It was a gorgeous day. We tried to get Selman Waksman, we tried to get the secretary of agriculture, we tried to get 15 or 20 others of equal note and we chose a member of the board of governors and the vice president of RCA, his name escapes me, to speak. As he started, he couldn't understand why he was there. …. [But], The day itself, he started out by talking about the parents and the pride they have in their children. It was a remarkably nice speech.
Q. Was that first one on the lawn by Passion Puddle?
BC: On the puddle, hasn't changed since.
Q. Why did you choose him as a speaker?
BC: He was good. He had also supported us about 80% of the time and we had appreciated what he had done. He was a senior VP and basically in charge of most of RCA in New Jersey . It was recognition for a good friend and a good person. And he was free.
Q. Prior to that all the graduations were done with Rutgers College ?
BC: Right. I found that a little lacking. Until 1972… In 1971 25,000 people matriculated in [ Rutgers University ] and graduated that year and each one was given a diploma with his name read off at a commencement ceremony in the stadium. It had gone on for a hundred years that way. That year they switched everything to a small university celebration in the morning and colleges in the afternoon. I remember telling ______, “you don't want this ex-marine not there, as one of the two people that have to go to that. I have been waiting 12 years for that experience. You're not stopping me.” So I was at the university and the regular commencement. But that university commencement held a special thing; it was a remarkable experience.
Q. Many people from Cook continue to participate in the University commencement.
BC: At the current university commencement we also give out the honorary degrees, graduate awards, graduate degrees, etc., .. and I don't know that every name has to be read, but I still think that it should be part of it. I also don't think there is anything wrong with the Cook experience. My god, graduation goes a week long now. That party is one hell time. Look around; see if anyone else has anything like that in this college or any other. I don't know of anybody.
Q. Do you have any memories from Ag Field Day?
BC: Yeah, I'm often surprised that Ag Field Day is a one day even now instead of a two day event. I managed the Saturday event in my senior year. And it manages itself, simply put. Everybody knows what they have been doing for umpteenth years, and it just goes on and on as a regular event. The Friday event was a fascination, bringing in all the kids from all the high schools. All the high schools in the state were allowed to apply to come to Cook College 's Ag Field Day. We told them what agriculture was. I think we make a mistake in not doing that [now]. It was one of the best recruiting deals that anybody had, but more important than that, it makes people aware of who we are and what we are. We don't do that well enough anymore. You can't imagine this campus with 3,000 screaming 15 year olds. A lot of kids were working very hard just saying, “don't do that”. I don't ever remember in the three years that I was involved in it, hearing there was anything wrong or that anybody got lost or anybody got in trouble. It was that well organized and that well managed.
Q. Do you remember any favorite events that went on within Ag Field Day?
BC: No. I was too busy.
Q. How are the alumni involved with it (Ag Field Day) now?
BC: The alumni have always been involved, holding our [annual meeting according to the] bylaws. We have to elect the group, president and vice president, every year. Something we haven't done in 10 or 15 years. …
Q. You have not had such a meeting?
BC: They stopped doing it, for no good reason whatsoever.
Q. So where are the meetings now?
BC: I have no idea. I'm not really that involved any longer. …
I had recruited some people who were kind of special and in the case of them, it never got off the ground with them. They'd come to one meeting and say excuse me where's the bathroom and they'd be gone about an hour later. It talks about what the commitment has to be. It is one of the reasons we're starting a founders group. In 1970, we started the Cook College Implementation Committee and it lasted for four years. People that graduated in 71' thru 74' were involved in the Cook College Implementation Committee. There was a group setting up Cook College from 1970 on of faculty. Each discipline within the college sent 2 representatives to the faculty crew that organized and set up the college. Equal in stature and equal in size, two people from each discipline were sent to a student group. We set up the implementation group, and we looked at the social aspects more so then the academic aspects. Whereas one group went after the academics and did a very extraordinary job, we went after the social. I don't think it's an accident the number of softball games you have here. I don't think it's an accident that six day graduation party. That was all planned by that group, they did a marvelous job the first two years there. A gentleman by the name of Joe Hunt, who is now the member of the Indiana Department of Health, was the president of the group. After that Sid Evans and Natalie Rudolph took it over for some period of time. Their personalities really structured this thing in very remarkable, unique, and special way.
Q. It was the student life.
BC: It was the student life part that we really mainly concentrated on. There were other aspects to it, for example, the people that sat on faculty committees from the student body were elected from the implementation group. For example, I sat on the committee for honors because I was one of the only honors students in the group and that took effect. We were involved in campus life a lot more then just planning. That group now calls itself the Cook College Council. It's the exact same group. It was the organization and implementation of the Cook College Council.
Q. Were you directly involved in planning the apartments and the dorms?
BC: Not while I was here. That was an “Oh boy can we get some!” That went on at a much higher level. That went on with the deans and above. The first two that they got, I was shocked. Woodbury and Nichols, I was shocked when they got those.
BC: Just never expected Douglas would build.
Q. When did the Newells and the other apartments come? Do you remember?
BC: Yeah, about 75' 76', fully implemented. They probably started going up 74'.
Q. They went up actually before that, 73'. We have the pictures over here.
BC: I did not see anything.
Q. November 1972, there are the apartments wrapped up in packages on the railroad tracks.
BC: Douglass desperately wanted a piece of that. They saw what was coming. The Douglas faculty said we can't let Cook have that all to themselves. So they traded these two for that. It was a tradeoff.
Q. They traded in what way?
BC: In other words, they were to give us… They wanted a piece of the Newell apartments as they went up. They wanted that for their students also.
Q. So some of their students were there?
BC: So some of their students in the beginning went there.
Q. I didn't realize that.
BC: Yeah. The trade off was these two apartments and one of the horseshoes at Gibbons and they got part of the Newell apartments or they got their own dormitories like the Newell apartments built somewhere else. I don't know exactly where. That's not something the student body got involved in. That was the faculty.
Q. So you graduated in 72”. So that was the last Ag and Environmental Science Year.
BC: It was a wonderful year. I came back in 78” as a graduate student.
Q. What did you study as a grad student?
Q. Just as a question we were thinking about including this year something at Ag Field Day involving the project we are doing. Do you have any ideas on how we can represent that? We were thinking about maybe having some interviews, interviewing some people, setting up some pictures. Can you think of anything fun?
BC: You could even ask people to bring pictures of themselves when they went to school here. You'll get some people that will help you out. You can ask them in advance, a month in advance, if they would like to be interviewed. You'll be surprised how many people would want to be interviewed.
Q. What do you think about the history project?
BC: I find it fascinating because I think too often people forget history. For example, Fran Lawrence was a departure from Ed Bloustein [as university president]. ….People were much more comfortable with Bloustein even in his worse days than Lawrence in his best. I think part of it is Lawrence 's fault himself because he's an introvert. He really doesn't project himself well in a large group.
I also think that Bloustein was perceived not to be as Mason Gross. It's like an old shoe and a new shoe. He fit better into the campus. To give you an idea of how he fit… Mason Gross. How he was involved in this campus. On Halloween night, at a costume party at a fraternity party in New Brunswick , two drunken couples got into a car and drove out to Mason Gross's house and went trick-or-treating. We spent two hours there. One of the most charming conversations I ever had. The next year, twelve couples went there. We had apples, oranges, soda, cookies…. He and his wife spent the rest of the evening with us, it was absolutely wonderful. I joined the Marine Corps soon after that and I heard that one year they went and the next year they didn't go and he went down and said, “What's wrong?” I just enjoyed it that much, it's too bad. He made comments to people that he missed the fact that they had gone. That's the way he fit into the college. He wasn't intimidated in anyway by the fact that some of them had come over to his house. ….
For example, originally when Camp Kilmer closed they wanted all the land at Camp Kilmer for Rutgers College . About 55% of it was in Edison and 45% in Piscataway , a small portion was in Highland Park . Highland Park was simple enough: “yes, sure, take what you want. It's on the other side of the tracks anyway, we don't want it.” Right after that, Tony Lensik (sp), the mayor of Edison said, “absolutely not, we had plans to start an industrial park or two on our land. You can't have any of it.” Soon after that, he was mighty offended. All of Piscataway had already been earmarked and given to Rutgers . Now, that's about one and a half to two square miles in a 16 square mile community that was 20% developed. The question came up, and they asked the mayor of Piscataway , which was my father at the time, what do you think? He said, “Well, I am trying to get AT&T to Piscataway .” They said, “It's too bad Rutgers doesn't have a nuclear accelerator.” He said, “Oh well, we will build a nuclear accelerator; we'll announce it next week.” They announced in the paper that the physics lab was getting a nuclear accelerator and the next thing you know that giant building on Hoes Lane is being built. The year after that the State decided not to fund it. Also, physics changed in such an enormous way that that wasn't necessary any longer anyway. Communications changed the industry, you didn't have to be right there and do it yourself. The particle accelerators in Switzerland were enough for the rest of the world.
The special need went away. It started a renaissance in Piscataway that 80% of the town is now organized instead of 20. Getting the land at Rutgers was more of a benefit for Piscataway then it ever was. They got a road from the State of New Jersey that doesn't have a house on it. It runs from one end of the town to the other. Seven miles of straight buildings, paying about five times what they use in taxes. All commercial buildings. All safe, all clean. Mostly office and administrative. It's the structure of the way things happen. If you look at the facilities in Piscataway that were built afterwards, you saw the reflection of what happened. Rutgers originally planned to build five colleges. They built one.
Q. Cook College was supposed to be over there. Part of the battle was getting it here.
BC: They never built three of the colleges.
Q. Well, according to Charlie Hess, when there was talk of building a new college, they wanted to do it over there rather than here at the Ag school.
BC: Yeah, but they didn't know where they wanted to do it. They had never gotten down to a place.
Q. They never got to that.
BC: But what they had was a referendum that had passed on the books to build five colleges. When they built Livingston College , Livingston is a whole lot larger that they ever envisioned with that referendum. Look at the rest of the land over there; they don't have enough for five more colleges. The land we are talking about is that area between Metlers [Lane] and Highland Park .
BC: Nothing in the Busch Campus. Busch had already been there when that structure had been in place. Then came Cook, then Douglass, then engineering moved out of town here in the fifties and moved up to the Heights when they built the engineering, chemistry, and physics. Then what occurred was, there was a little college of medicine and dentistry in Newark . It then became the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry. Then it became Rutgers medical School. UMDNJ used to be Rutgers Medical School . It is probably going to become Rutgers Medical School again. Everyone in Trenton wants it to happen. They are fighting to keep it away. I think the idea of Cody leaving the other day says they lost. They lost the battle. Under the circumstances the changes that will be made in the future are going to be interesting.
Q. We have taken a lot of your time.
BC: That's okay.
Q. Is there something else you think we should talk about here or perhaps a statement about your vision for the future of this institution?
BC: I find it fascinating that the group that made the place happen is slowly but surely dying off. Dan Rossi is probably the youngest at fifty. That's scary. His third child just graduated. It tells you what the responsibility of the campus is. I had a very interesting comment the other day where I heard a comment that student life has a real problem to it. They forgot that there is something called academics. Why is this college in existence? I think some people are going to get a better understanding of their job function very shortly. It's an odd thing when we start looking around; what changes will we make? Those changes aren't going to be drastic, but they are going to be minor changes. Come back to understand where this campus has to be.
Q. I think we are all relieved that the merger plans did not go through at this time.
BC: I have two partners in life. One of them is the leading Republican lobbyist in Trenton . He told me a month beforehand that the thing was dead. ….
Q. Well, thank you very much. We really appreciate it.
BC: No problem.