Maryland, Rutgers join academic consortium before conference

Maryland, Rutgers join academic consortium before conference

CHAMPAIGN — The Big Ten's two newest members will become part of its academic consortium a full year before they formally join the athletic conference.

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the Big Ten's academic arm, has voted unanimously to accept the University of Maryland and Rutgers University as members, effective July 2013.

The two schools are scheduled to become part of the Big Ten Conference for the 2014-15 school year, though the exact date has to be worked out with the Atlantic Coast Conference, where Maryland is a member, and the Big East Conference, which includes Rutgers.

Both universities submitted letters last week formally requesting CIC membership, following the announcement of their intent to join the Big Ten. The letters outlined their credentials, including their status as land-grant universities with major research portfolios.

The vote took place Sunday in Indianapolis at a meeting of the provosts from the 13 current CIC members — the 12 Big Ten schools plus the University of Chicago.

"By every measure they stack up very, very well," said Barbara Allen, executive director of the Champaign-based CIC. "It just looks like a very natural fit. We're excited about a bigger footprint for CIC. We think that benefits all of the member institutions."

The CIC encourages universities to share their expertise in research, leverage campus resources and collaborate on student and faculty programs.

Allen said Maryland and Rutgers are both members of the Association of American Universities — representing the nation's top research universities — and have similar size, research scope and academic quality as other CIC schools.

Faculty at the two schools already have collaborations with several Big Ten campuses — including the Global Institute for BioExploration, created by Rutgers and the UI to promote natural, sustainable medicines in developing countries.

"I think their fit on the academic side is excellent," said UI Chancellor Phyllis Wise, who voted with other Big Ten academic leaders to accept Rutgers and Maryland last month.

Maryland is quite similar to the UI, a land-grant university with roughly the same number of faculty and "real strengths all around," including physics and engineering, Wise said.

In terms of rankings, both schools fall within Big Ten norms. Among public universities, Maryland ranks 19th and Rutgers 25th, placing both ahead of Michigan State, Iowa, Indiana and Nebraska.

AAU membership was "critically important for all of us," Wise added. (Nebraska was a member of the AAU when it joined the Big Ten in 2010, though members have since voted to drop it.)

With Pitt's planned departure for the ACC, Rutgers was the last remaining AAU member in the Big East, said Richard Edwards, executive vice president for academic affairs at Rutgers.

"We're really pleased that we will be able to engage in a very close collaboration through the CIC with other major research universities," Edwards said Tuesday. "We think we have much to gain from that, but we also think we have some things to bring to the partnership."

Rutgers is home to the nation's top-ranked chemistry department in terms of federal funding, a worldwide molecular database, cell and DNA repositories for the National Institutes of Health and a national transportation center, he said.

It currently has no medical campus but will soon absorb two medical schools, a cancer institute and affiliated health colleges when it takes over the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey on July 1.

Its philosophy and sociology departments and dance programs are also highly ranked, he said.

Edwards said most Rutgers faculty see the move to the Big Ten as a positive step and are "elated" about joining the CIC. The Big East does not have an academic consortium, he said.

"They see it as a tremendous benefit for Rutgers. We could not find a better home."

Maryland Provost Mary Ann Rankin called the CIC an "extraordinary partnership" that is unique from others across the country. The ACC has a consortium, but it tends to focus on student activities, "nowhere near as deep or rich in terms of partnerships and opportunities as the CIC," she said.

"Many of the faculty are more excited about that than they are about joining the athletic side of it," she said.

For its part, Maryland's location within 25 miles of the nation's capital offers access to internships and research partnerships with federal agencies and other institutions, she said. One example: a new Cybersecurity Center, a partnership with government and industry offering educational programs and developing technologies to defend against cyber attacks.

Not all Maryland fans are happy about leaving the ACC and its basketball rivalries, Rankin said. But even though the ACC has some academic powerhouses — including Virginia, North Carolina and Duke — "the Big Ten is more uniformly like us," with all but one school a public research university, she said.

Bigger can be better when schools join forces to pursue multimillion-dollar federal research grants. For example, the UI landed WaterCAMPWS (a science and technology center looking at water purification and funded by the National Science Foundation) by partnering with institutions such as Yale University and Rose-Hulman.

"Some of these big $50 million, $100 million proposals where you need multi-disciplinary, multi-institutions involved, now (Maryland and Rutgers) will not only have expertise from us and the other CIC institutions, we will have their expertise as well," said Matt Wheeler, UI animal sciences professor and faculty representative to the Big Ten.

"It will make us much more competitive when you look at these big type of proposals like Blue Waters or WaterCAMPWS," he said.

One of the multi-institutional projects under way focuses on traumatic brain injury, and it was the CIC that organized the group and connected them with some Ivy League schools too, Wheeler said.

For students, the addition of two more institutions means more access to materials and courses. A Rutgers student can now access materials from the UI's library. A UI student may take a course in Maryland online or in person, said UI Provost Ilesanmi Adesida.

A statistical comparison of members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and Maryland and Rutgers:

Institution FY2011 research expenses 2011 full-time faculty 2011 full-time students 2011 full-time graduate students 2011 full-time undergraduate students 2011 library volumes 2011 Ph.D.'s awarded
University of Chicago $405,833,199 3,231 12,457 7,137 5,320 10,729,052 395
Illinois $545,669,000 2,148 40,541 9,230 31,311 13,377,371 801
Indiana $454,075,880 2,413 37,609 6,516 31,093 8,908,159 494
Iowa $443,893,000 2,424 24,369 5,015 19,354 6,330,031 359
Michigan $1,236,510,624 5,849 40,225 13,687 26,538 12,438,418 764
Michigan State University $356,765,036 2,577 41,596 8,302 33,294 6,892,912 494
Minnesota $808,281,000 4,126 38,694 9,500 29,194 7,364,052 710
Nebraska $368,331,834 1,599 20,981 2,942 18,039 3,554,930 261
Northwestern  $484,149,349 2,291 17,089 8,651 8,438 5,180,981 447
Ohio State $823,125,558 3,383 48,788 9,554 39,234 6,287,960 782
Penn State $804,789,000 3,196 43,515 5,788 37,727 5,801,739 687
Purdue $600,477,000 2,290 35,994 5,996 29,998 3,237,295 689
Wisconsin $1,111,641,832 3,142 37,653 9,916 27,737 8,591,442 754
CIC Total $8,443,542,312 38,669 439,511 102,234 337,277 98,694,342 7,637
Maryland $453,545,351 3,200 32,233 7,536 24,697 3,816,713 604
Rutgers $473,000,000 2,487 34,925 5,173 29,752 4,930,751 418
Grand Total (CIC + Maryland and Rutgers) $9,370,087,663 44,356 506,669 114,943 391,726 107,441,806 8,659


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Sid Saltfork wrote on December 05, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Lipstick on a pig.  It is football with all the revenue that it brings with it that expands the Big 10, or Big 14, or 15, or 16, or..............

Lostinspace wrote on December 05, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Interesting chart.  Only Nebraska has fewer faculty members.  Poorest student/faculty ratio: 18.87 (average CIC: 11.37).  Where does the money go?

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 05, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Didn't list administrative costs did it.......  Wonder how that charts out?