A $15 million gift from Gary and Barbara Rodkin, the largest ever given to Rutgers Athletics, will be the foundation for the construction of the complex that will house soccer and lacrosse facilities, athletic administrative offices, and, the keystone of the project, the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Center for Academic Success.
“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.”
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.
There is no timetable for construction, although Athletic Director Pat Hobbs told NJ Advance Media that he expects to have a groundbreaking at some point in the next four months. The current construction of the RWJBarnabas Health Performance Center is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
This is a game changer in more ways than one. For one, it apparently changes the design and location of the soccer/lacrosse facility. The last design placed a stand alone soccer/lacrosse building in what is now the Blue Lot just outside the perimeter of Yurcak Field. That dual sport building is now set to be a part of this larger complex and will be constructed on part of the Miller Family Soccer Complex just north of Athletes’ Glen.
According to the press release from Rutgers, this academic support facility will serve all of Rutgers’ athletes in one location. And while there could still be “satellite” study facilities in the RAC and/or the Hale Center - our speculation - the main locale for that support will be in the Rodkin Center.
The area around both Yurcak Field and High Point Solutions Stadium will also look different. While preliminary drawings and architectural renderings can, and often do, change, the illustrations seem to present a more finished and, perhaps, pedestrian-friendly area. The area around Yurcak Field, as seen in the drawing below, has brick columns and wrought iron fencing, similar to what surrounds the Battaglia Football Complex. The notations on the drawing are the writer’s, not from Rutgers.
Beyond the building, the $15 million gift from the Rodkins brings the R B1G Build closer to its $100 million goal, despite having far fewer than its original 10,000 donor goal.
The Rodkins are both graduates of Rutgers. 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, the former CEO of ConAgra Foods. “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.”