After 22 years with Rutgers, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy Dean James Hughes will leave the University following the school's 25th anniversary.
All of the anniversary milestones taking place this year make it a good time to step down, said Hughes, who is the longest-standing dean at Rutgers.
The Bloustein school is celebrating its 25th anniversary, the 70th anniversary of the undergraduate planning major, the 50th anniversary of the graduate planning major and the 25th anniversary of National Transit Institute.
“My shelf life is running out, but one of the reasons is this is the 250th university of Rutgers University," he said. "So, it’s a real celebratory year and a good point to step down and let someone else take on the leadership of the school."
Hughes said he always considered his job to be the best job at the University.
A search committee chosen by Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Richard L. Edwards, who was an associate dean for 17 years, will be responsible for picking a new dean, said Michael Greenberg, associate dean of faculty. The search will take most of an academic year.
Greenberg has been Hughes's colleague and friend for 45 years.
"I personally feel Dean Hughes was a great dean and that’s because he encouraged among faculty and staff a real entrepreneurial spirit,” Greenberg said. “You cant replace over two decades of management and successfully managing an organization."
Hughes has been an integral part of the school, Greenberg said, having spent several decades building relations with public servants in New Jersey and creating allies within the field of Planning and Public Policy.
Rutgers has received several grants from a variety of federal, state, local and private organizations because of Hughes' entrepreneurial spirit and creativity he ran the school with.
“He’s very open minded and very flexible, and it would be my hope that we will get someone who will be similarly inclined for the future,” Greenberg said.
Hughes allowed the school's faculty to modify its curriculum, as well as develop or upgrade majors, he said. The Bloustein School also expanded significantly after Hughes took over as dean.
“During his tenure the school's substantially expanded the number of students especially at the undergraduate level,” he said. “We have more than quadrupled the number of undergraduate majors in a relatively short period of time.”
During his remaining time as dean, Hughes said he wants to ensure the school is as financially stable as is possible.
“I want the new dean coming in having no problems, so it's basically getting the school in as good of shape as it can be so the next person can really take on whatever their priorities will be,” he said.
One of the greatest achievements Hughes said he has witnessed during his time as dean is bringing the school to the point where it has become public policy central for New Jersey and the region.
The Bloustein school ranks sixth in the nation among public planning schools and second within the northeast region, beating universities such as Cornell, Columbia, and Harvard, Hughes said.
Hughes's last day will be June 30, 2017. After he leaves, Hughes will be speaking around the region and working on a book contract with Rutgers University Press.
Nick Huber is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. He can be found on Twitter @njhuber95Huber.