Over the past five years, Rutgers has completed $1.8 billion in construction projects that are reshaping every campus. I am happy to celebrate each ribbon cutting, especially because I know these wonderful buildings are also symbolic of the broader progress we are making as an institution.

We have long had outstanding  academic programs—women’s history, for example, has been one of the nation’s best for years. Math is highly ranked. Philosophy is always one of the top two or three in the English-speaking world. Now that strength is spreading. USA Today publishes a list of the top 10 universities to attend if you want to pursue a particular major. If you want to study the health professions, Rutgers is ranked as the top school in America for that major. Social work is number two; human resource management and criminal justice, number three; biological sciences, information science, and natural resource management, all number four; and homeland security, number five. We have 18 top 10 majors.

There is more evidence of our progress. Ten faculty members were elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the past year, the most we’ve ever had. We have doubled the number of endowed professorships, helping us recruit outstanding scholars to our faculty. And look where our school mergers have taken us. The newly merged Rutgers Law School jumped 30 spots, from 92nd to 62nd, in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings. The merger of our nursing schools in Newark and New Brunswick helped push Rutgers into the nation’s top 25.

For these reasons and more, we have had a 28 percent surge in applications over the past five years—and a rise of 50 points in the SAT scores of our incoming students. Our students—20 percent of whom are the first in their family to attend college—are achieving, too. Retention rates are above 90 percent. Our students are among the nation’s top Fulbright winners. Our student teams are winning national and international competitions in economics, debating, and social entrepreneurship. And according to a “mobility index” published in the New York Times that measures students’ socioeconomic gains after they graduate, Rutgers ranked highest in the Big Ten.

I love buildings, but I love to see our students succeed even more. That’s the momentum that matters.