Rutgers President, 1990 to 2002
Francis L. Lawrence, the 18th president of Rutgers, served the university during a period of remarkable change. In 1990, when he began his tenure, the internet was used primarily by scientists, rather than students, and the nation was poised for the economic growth of the 1990s; when he left office, the internet was a part of daily life, changing the way we communicate, and the nation was reeling from the attacks of September 11, 2001. “The tragedy was especially meaningful for young people,” Lawrence wrote in his president’s report in 2002. “Our students, most of whom were raised in an atmosphere of security in the world’s most affluent nation, had to come to terms with learning new national and international realities that taught them lessons in harsh ways.” He noted how the Rutgers community rallied to work for a safer and better future for all people, adding, “I will always remember that extraordinary spirit of community and commitment at the university and throughout the great state of New Jersey when I look back on my 12 years as president of Rutgers.”
Those years were a time of sustained growth and achievement, and Lawrence, a nationally recognized educator who arrived at Rutgers from Tulane University, shepherded Rutgers through a focus on strategic planning, academic excellence, diversity initiatives, active fundraising, and major building programs.