How Rutgers University got its name
Henry Rutgers, the man for whom the state university of New Jersey is named, was born on Oct. 7, 1745. He was born and grew up in New York City and attended what is now Columbia University.
He went on to serve as a captain of American forces at the Battle of White Plains in the Revolutionary War, and later as a colonel for the New York militia. He became active in politics, serving in the New York legislature as well as being a wealthy landowner, primarily in Manhattan, where both Henry Street and Rutgers Street are name for him.
In 1825, what was then known as Queens College in New Brunswick which was founded by the Dutch Reformed Church, was experiencing financial difficulties and had temporarily closed. The trustees approached Henry Rutgers, who was well known for his philanthropy, for assistance. It is reported that he donated $5,000 to the college to keep it afloat. The trustees voted to rename the school after their benefactor, although according to the university’s website, there were more noble reasons as well: “Rutgers is honored, say the trustees, because he epitomizes Christian values; he is president of the Dutch Church's Board of Corporation.” He also donated a bell, worth $200, to the school that is still in use on the campus today.
I realize $5,000 was a lot more money in 1825, but it still seems like a pretty low price to get a world famous educational institution named for you. The school later became Rutgers University and is now known as Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.