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Libraries, Alumni Celebrate Livingston College’s 50th Anniversary

November 13, 2019
Photo of three panelists sitting at table

Panelists (l. to r.) Noah Hart Jr., Robert W. Synder, and Staci Berger. Credit: Kiran Jagtiani

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Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award winner Eshan Kaul (l.) with Livingston Alumni Association past president Eric Schwarz (r.). Credit: Kiran Jagtiani

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Nearly 200 alumni and friends gathered at Carr Library to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Livingston College last month. Credit: Kiran Jagtiani

Panel and exhibit commemorate legacy of college distinguished by diversity, innovation in education

Rutgers University–New Brunswick Libraries and the Livingston Alumni Association joined with nearly 200 alumni and friends at Carr Library on October 25 for a special event titled “Livi at 50: A Celebration of Livingston College’s 50th Anniversary.”

The event featured a panel discussion of prominent Livingston alumni, a presentation of the Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award, and an exhibition of historical Livingston material from the University Archives.

“Through its values and vision, Livingston College reflected everything that makes Rutgers–New Brunswick a world-class institution today,” said Rutgers–New Brunswick chancellor Christopher J. Molloy in opening remarks delivered during the festivities.

As a college, Livingston’s history was marked by many innovations in teaching and learning. In addition to being Rutgers–New Brunswick’s first coeducational, undergraduate residential college for the liberal arts, Livingston also explicitly embraced an ethos of diversity of thought. Its faculty lived among students in small “houses” in the Quads, and the college recruited and cultivated a wide variety of speakers, poets, writers, jazz musicians, and artists. Livingston also had the distinction of founding Rutgers’ first departments of Puerto Rican studies, anthropology, community development, and urban studies, as well as a forward-looking minor in organizational leadership.

A panel discussion reflected this diversity, with alumni Staci Berger LC’94, EJB/GSNB’04, Noah Hart Jr. LC’73, GSED’88, and Robert W. Snyder, LC’77 all speaking about their formative years at Livingston and the impact the college had on them.

"I was attracted to Livingston because of the notions of innovation, creativity, and a socially conscious college experience,” said Hart. “I remember walking through the Quads and bumping into students who didn’t look like I did—who didn’t have the same background as I did—and having engaging conversations. That’s what I came to Livingston for.”

“It was challenging because there were lots of different people,” added Snyder. “You were thrown into the same classroom and had to learn how to get along. But if you stuck it out, you learned a lot about yourself and about other people.”

As illustrated by the full room of alumni in attendance, this experience made a lasting impact on many lives.

“When I think of the Livingston experience, the word I think of is ‘foundation,’” noted Berger. “What I learned here I continue to put into practice every day, personally and professionally.”

And while Livingston was merged into the School of Arts and Sciences in 2007, the spirit of diversity and innovation that distinguished it over the years lives on in current students like Eshan Kaul SEBS’19, RWJMS’22.

Kaul was named recipient of this year’s Riki Jacobs Livingston Pride Award for his work as co-founder of Access to Education (A2E), an after-school tutoring program connecting Rutgers clubs with students at Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick.

"The impact that Rutgers has had on me is enormous,” said Kaul in discussing his work with A2E. "Something that Rutgers embodied in us is that when we saw a problem, we had to take action. I hope to continue making that impact, supporting the community around me, and making a difference.”

Finally, an exhibit of materials from the University Archives including yearbooks, photographs, and other artifacts captured Livingston’s evolution from its beginnings as the military base Camp Kilmer in the 1950s through the present day, where the campus is home to nearly 4,000 Rutgers students, cutting-edge athletic and retail facilities, and academic divisions ranging from the Department of Africana Studies to the Center for Women and Work.

"When thinking about Livingston, I am struck by how much the past is prologue,” noted Erika Gorder, archivist for Special Collections and University Archives and curator of the exhibit. “So much of what Livingston represented back in 1969 are exactly the things we strive for today.”

The evening’s festivities as well as key moments from the college’s history were captured on social media with the hashtag #Livi50. See additional photos from the event on Facebook.

The anniversary celebration will carry into the new year with the Livingston College Distinguished Alumni Awards on Friday, April 24. The Libraries will also be memorializing the event with a digital collection to be published in the spring.