Executive Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Celebrates 150 Years as Land-Grant by Saluting George Hammell Cook

George H. Cook, the star of the Distinguished Lecture celebrating the 150th anniversary of the school, is flanked, from the left, by Executive Dean Bob Goodman, University Archivist Thomas Frusciano, and Thomas Farris, dean of the School of Engineering.

George H. Cook, the star of the Distinguished Lecture celebrating the 150th anniversary of the school, is flanked, from the left, by Executive Dean Bob Goodman, University Archivist Thomas Frusciano, and Thomas Farris, dean of the School of Engineering.

“In the early 1860s Rutgers College was in the doldrums,” writes biographer Jean Wilson Sidar. “An ailing and aging president, apathetic alumni, and a lack of support … made the college an unlikely place for a dynamic change of direction and growth.” Due to the Civil War, the entire institution was reduced in size from 164 students in 1861 to 64 in 1864. For George Cook, perhaps the college’s most prominent and industrious faculty member, “the situation was one of great concern,” Sidar writes with great understatement.

However, the scene was set for a remarkable reinvigoration of Rutgers, led by George Hammell Cook and colleague David Murray as they secured for Rutgers the designation of New Jersey’s land-grant institution. The story of how this came about and the indefatigable commitment of Cook was the subject of a 150th anniversary celebration at the Executive Dean’s Distinguished Lecture last month presented with scores of historic illustrations by Thomas Frusciano, University archivist. The video of the lecture is available for viewing below. See how Cook “brought new vitality and a new commitment to the college.”

Video: Executive Dean's Distinguished Lecture: Rutgers Hero, George Hammell Cook

Dept. of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics Celebrates 100th Anniversary

DAFRE graduate alumni, along with Distinguished Professor Carl Pray. Front row, left to right:  Karen Rose-Tank, Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, Liping Wang, Julia Menzo, Ann Courtmanche. Back row, left to right: Brian Schilling, Carl Pray, Katrin Glode-Sethna, John Italia.

DAFRE graduate alumni, along with Distinguished Professor Carl Pray. Front row, left to right: Karen Rose-Tank, Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, Liping Wang, Julia Menzo, and Ann Courtmanche. Back row, left to right: Brian Schilling, Carl Pray, Katrin Glode-Sethna, and John Italia.

One day after an on-campus event celebrating the 150th anniversary of Rutgers’ designation as New Jersey’s land grant institution, an important component of that institution – the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics – marked its founding exactly fifty years later, in 1914.

The department’s centennial event, held on November 6th in the Cook Campus Center, featured a panel discussion on “Agricultural and Resource Economics in the 21st Century.” This was followed by a reception and dinner for alumni, current and former faculty, staff and guests.

Over dinner, department chairman Paul Gottlieb reminded attendees that in the first decades of its existence, the department’s quantitative research was especially important to New Jersey agriculture. “We were founded a year after the personal income tax was instituted in the U.S.,” he noted. “Without good records on their costs of production, farmers couldn’t calculate their income, and they might wind up paying too much. The first Rutgers economists helped farmers with this new bookkeeping problem.” [Read more…]

Alumni Story: Mark Zarrillo (CAES ’70), Present at the Revolution

Mark Zarrillo

Mark Zarrillo

The Department of Landscape Architecture each year honors an alumnus/a who has contributed substantially to the landscape architecture profession. Mark J. Zarrillo, Class of 1970, is the Rutgers University Department of Landscape Architecture 2014 Outstanding Alumnus.

As part of the honor, Mark was invited to the G.H. Cook Campus recently to deliver a presentation in connection with the department’s Common Lecture Series. During that visit, he reflected a bit about his days at Rutgers and how it came to be that he pursued landscape architecture, a field in which he has excelled professionally. [Read more…]

Of Dragonflies and Dinosaurs: Rutgers Researchers Help Map Insect Origins and Evolution

Cover of the Nov. 7 issue of the journal Science features scientists' mapping of the evolution of insects.

Cover of the Nov. 7 issue of the journal Science features scientists’ mapping of the evolution of insects.

When the dinosaurs ruled the earth, they were already bugged by creatures who had gotten there many millions of years earlier: Dragonflies and damselflies. In fact, says Rutgers University-Newark biologist, Jessica Ware, (Ph.D graduate in Entomology) the first creatures to take to the skies of earth did so 406 million years ago.

Ware knows of what she speaks. She is part of an international team of 100 researchers that just finished an unprecedented two-year project to map the evolution of insects using a molecular data set of unparalleled quality and dimensions. Ware was invited to participate in the project by Karl Kjer, professor in the Department of Ecology Evolution and Natural Resources at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, who is one of three co-directors of the team.

The initial report on their groundbreaking work is the cover story of the Nov. 7 issue of Science, the world’s largest general science journal, published weekly by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

What the researchers found is that insects originated at the same time as the earliest terrestrial plants about 480 million years ago, suggesting that insects and plants shaped the earliest terrestrial ecosystems together. They also determined that insects developed wings long before any other animal could do so, and at nearly the same time that land plants first grew substantially upwards to form forests. [Read more…]

Alumni Story: Scott Willens (Cook ’92), A Call to Action

Scott Willens, right, poses with his former G.H. Honors advisor Larry Katz in front of a pastoral mural, painted by Hedy McDonald, a Katz family friend.

Scott Willens, right, poses with his former G.H. Cook Honors advisor Larry Katz in front of a pastoral mural, painted by Hedy McDonald, a Katz family friend.

When Scott Willens was six years old, he started piano lessons and for a while aspired to going to Julliard. During his senior year in high school, he got a beagle puppy, and that changed everything. Still an accomplished musician, he is now Army Major Scott Willens, with a DVM with board certification in the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine and a Ph.D. in pharmacology.

Scott is a member of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, serving stateside and in places like Iraq and focusing on bio-security and developing medical countermeasures and knowledge solutions to chemical and biological agents. [Read more…]