Peter J. McDonough is the senior vice president for external affairs at Rutgers.


Peter J. McDonough is the senior vice president for external affairs at Rutgers.

Benoit Cortet

June in Trenton is always a challenge. The legislature and the governor, as well as their staffs, are burning the midnight oil to adopt a $35.5 billion budget by June 30 that is balanced, is responsible, and meets the needs of New Jersey’s residents. People who rely on the state budget for funding are jockeying to assure that their interests don’t get shunned in the process of allotting discretionary funding, which totals less than 15 percent of the budget.

Everyone’s interest is special, and Rutgers is no different. The university receives more than $800 million in annual appropriations and other revenues from the state. Maintaining that funding level is a year-round priority; it becomes especially critical during budget season in Trenton.

The Office of External Affairs at the university commissioned a study by the Rutgers Economic Advisory Service at the  Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy to determine the impact of the university on the state’s economy and to demonstrate that state investment in Rutgers is good not only for Rutgers and our students, but also for the entire state. (Read about the highlights of the study: Rutgers Grows the Garden State.)

The most important takeaways are that every dollar of state investment in Rutgers generates nearly $7 in the state’s economy. Rutgers is the third-largest nongovernmental employer in the state, directly employing 26,000 people and indirectly supporting 32,000 more. If we had a gross domestic product for a university (GDP), Rutgers’ annual GDP would be more than $5 billion. In other words, the university’s annual impact on the state’s economy is $5.2 billion. 

These are the kinds of facts that legislators need to know  before making decisions about the state budget, and they are the kinds of facts we have presented in order to secure our funding and keep Rutgers among the finest public research universities in the United States.