College History

Livingston College was founded in 1965, and opened in 1969, at Rutgers University’s Kilmer Campus (renamed as Livingston Campus in 1991) in Piscataway, New Jersey. It had a mission to bring together a diverse group of students, faculty and staff in a shared-learning community committed to the pursuit of academic innovation and excellence.

  • College/campus timeline.
  • Rutgers magazine’s history of Livingston College, Great Expectations, published in spring 2012 (.PDF copy below).

Livingston College had the distinction of being Rutgers-New Brunswick’s first coeducational undergraduate residential college for the liberal arts.

The college’s mission eventually was embraced by the entire university, honoring the college’s distinction of community building through leadership and understanding.

Dedicated to expanding opportunities for its students, the college fulfilled its mission through its core curriculum, its minor in organizational leadership, its internship programs, and its student life activities. Livingston offered students the personal attention of a small college community within a major research institution.

Strength Through Diversity logoIts original motto, “Strength through Diversity,” came to life in the college’s signature lecture series, the Global Futures Symposia. Livingston College offered an undergraduate education that prepared students to think critically and to act responsibly in the contemporary world. The college offered the broadest possible choice at the university of more than 60 majors, with an academic program designed to give students an excellent foundation in the liberal arts and an in-depth understanding of their chosen fields of interest. Courses in fulfillment of distribution requirements gave students experience in the humanities, natural and social sciences, and quantitative and analytical studies. Livingston College students were also introduced to the diversity of world cultures as they developed insight into the origins and character of contemporary national and global issues.

Livingston offered a unique minor in organizational leadership. Unifying the theoretical and practical elements of organizational dynamics, the minor ensured that the student’s academic background included a component immediately recognizable as valuable by potential employers. The program complemented instruction offered in Rutgers’ professional schools and offered important curricular options to students pursuing degrees in arts and sciences. The college was committed to providing an open forum where ideas and values were examined and restructured in the light of knowledge acquired within and beyond the classroom.

Rutgers’ new School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) enrolled its first students for the fall 2007 semester, replacing the New Brunswick-area liberal arts undergraduate colleges, including Livingston College. Livingston’s final commencement as a separate college was held in 2010. SAS is now the largest school at Rutgers.

Read more about the vibrant current Livingston Campus.




Timeline of Livingston College and Livingston Campus

Livingston College history (overview)

  • 1964    Rutgers acquires 540 acres of the former Camp Kilmer base from the federal government. The base was named for Joyce Kilmer, a New Brunswick poet who was killed in action while serving in the New York National Guard during World War I.
  • 1965    The Rutgers Board of Governors (BOG) names the first of three colleges planned on the Kilmer property, for William Livingston, who served as New Jersey’s first governor from 1766 to 1790.
  • 1965-1973       Ernest A. Lynton is the first Dean of Livingston College. Lynton led a number of curriculum innovations, including the establishment of majors in computer science, African-American studies, urban studies and comparative literature. He also started programs in city and regional planning, and anthropology at Livingston.
  • 1969    Livingston College opens in September, with about 700 students. Nearly one in three students was a minority, and students were included as voting members of the college assembly. Students in the new Organization for Black Unity (OBU), with the college’s permission, designated House 25 in the Quad II dormitory as the “Malcolm X house.” Quads I and III were built but not yet open.
  • 1970-1971       The college establishes intercollegiate men’s baseball and football teams, as well as a cheerleading squad and a co-ed intramural baseball program.
  • 1970    Tillett Hall opens in the spring as the college’s main academic building, including a campus center and a dining hall. A student newspaper, The Medium, debuts in October. Previous campus newspapers were titled Mudslide, Fango, and General Motors.
  • 1971    Livingston College students begin AM radio station. Kilmer Area Library opens.
  • 1972    North and South Towers dorms open. New Academic Building (later named Lucy Stone Hall) opens.
  • 1973    Livingston College graduates its first full four-year class of 500 students. The graduates are approximately 80% white, 15% black, 3% Puerto Rican, and 2% Asian.
  • 1973-1974       George Warren Carey serves as Acting Dean of Livingston College. On Nov. 5, 1973, a group of black students takes over Carey’s office. The students demanded the resignation of the dean of student affairs and a reconstitution of student services on campus. Four days later, 350 black, white and Puerto Rican Rutgers University students pack the BOG meeting to support the demands of Livingston’s black students.
  • 1974-1977       Emmanuel George Mesthene serves as Dean of Livingston College.
  • 1975-1976       Livingston College Association of Graduates (LCAG) is formed. Renamed as Livingston Alumni Association (LAA) in 1988.
  • 1977    Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) opens with a men’s basketball victory over rival Seton Hall. Today it is home to the Rutgers men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, and gymnastics programs, as well as hosting other events. Renamed as Louis Brown Athletic Center in 1986.
  • 1977-1990       W. Robert Jenkins serves as Dean of Livingston College.
  • 1980    The BOG merges the faculties of the liberal arts schools in New Brunswick into two main groups — the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Professional Studies. The reorganization largely mutes Livingston’s academic autonomy.
  • 1986    Livingston Student Center (LSC) opens.
  • 1990-1993       Walton R. Johnson serves as Dean of Livingston College.
  • 1990    BOG renames Towers dorms for Lynton. The LAA honors its first Livingston Pride Award winner. The award continues to honor a graduating senior from Rutgers-New Brunswick colleges each year.
  • 1991    BOG votes to rename campus from “Kilmer” to “Livingston,” ending a yearlong struggle by Livingston College students to strengthen their school’s identity.
  • 1993-2007       Arnold G. Hyndman serves as the final Dean of Livingston College.
  • 1999    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the first production of the Livingston Theatre Company, opens.
  • 2000    Livingston’s radio station, RLC-WVPH (The Core), in partnership with Piscataway High School, begins broadcasting at 90.3 FM. The LAA honors its first four Livingston College Distinguished Alumni.
  • 2007    Rutgers merges Livingston, Rutgers, Douglass, and University colleges in New Brunswick into the School of Arts and Sciences, and Livingston College officially ends. Currently enrolled students are permitted to complete their degrees as Livingston graduates until 2010.
  • 2009    The LAA gives its first Livingston Legacy Awards to three faculty members.
  • 2010    A renovated and expanded LSC has a grand reopening. Livingston College holds its final commencement.
  • 2011    Livingston Dining Commons opens.
  • 2012    The Livingston Apartments open.
  • 2013    The Plaza, a retail center that includes a movie theater and several eateries, opens. The Rutgers Business School-New Brunswick building opens.
  • 2017    Kilmer Area Library renamed for James Dickson Carr, the first African-American graduate of Rutgers College. 
  • 2019    RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center opens.

Originally posted October 8, 2019




Great Expectations: Writings on Livingston College History

Livingston College’s innovations in academics, student life and governance, especially in its early years, have been the topic of multiple published articles, both popular and scholarly. Here is a selected bibliography:


Clemens, P. G. E., & Yanni, C. (2016). The early years of Livingston College, 1964–1973: Revisiting the “college of good intentions.” The Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, 68(2), 71-114. [Full text online]

Livingston College’s innovations in academics, student life and governance, especially in its early years, have been the topic of multiple published articles, both popular and scholarly. Here is a selected bibliography:


Clemens, P. G. E., & Yanni, C. (2016). The early years of Livingston College, 1964–1973: Revisiting the “college of good intentions.” The Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries, 68(2), 71-114. [Full text online]

Abstract: Livingston College was planned in the late 1960s and opened in fall 1969 as part of Rutgers University-New Brunswick/Piscataway.  Ernest Lynton, its first dean and chief architect, envisioned a college that emphasized interdisciplinary studies, that had a faculty and student body who would carry what was learned in the classroom into the community, that would empower students to shape the college and their own education, and that would recruit significant numbers of new students from historically disadvantaged minority groups.  This “college of good intentions” fell short of Lynton’s hopes.  This article examines why this happened, but also seeks to illustrate the many ways the hopes for educational reform embodied in the college’s design foreshadowed what many universities, including Rutgers, would accomplish in the future.


 

Hann, C. (2012, Spring). Great expectations. Rutgers Magazine, 92(2), 50-55. [Full text online]

“More than 40 years ago, at the height of the Vietnam War, a bold experiment in higher education got under way at Rutgers. It was called Livingston College. During its formative years, the college’s ideals—from its progressive curriculum to its goal of serving underrepresented students—attracted distinguished faculty from top universities and ushered in the diversity that today is a hallmark of Rutgers.”

This article details and celebrates the history of Livingston College, which was one of Rutgers-New Brunswick’s undergraduate units from 1969 to 2007. A sidebar article details the transformation of the Livingston campus “into a state-of-the-art center for business and professional education.”


Hidalgo, H. (1973). No one model American: A collegiate case in point.  The Journal of Teacher Education, 24(4), 294-301. [Excerpts from the article]

Abstract: An examination of Livingston College at Rutgers as an example of some of the difficulties and successes in the implementation of the “No One Model American” statement.


Horowitz, I. L., and Feigenbaum, J. (1980, July). Experiment perilous: The first year of Livingston College of Rutgers University. Urban Education, 15(2), 131-168.

Abstract: Livingston College was established to provide a terminal social science program, particularly for lower-income minority students, though the majority of its students are Jewish and middle class. Despite efforts to make Livingston a model college, however, external social, racial, and economic variables cannot be controlled.


Siederer, M. (2020, Spring/Summer). Livingston at 50: Celebrating the college built on ‘Strength Through Diversity’. 1766 [alumni magazine], 37(1), 14-19. [Full text online]

When Livingston College welcomed its first students in September 1969, many of the campus’ buildings, sidewalks, and landscaping were still under construction, with piles of mud throughout, giving rise to the original name of the student newspaper: The Mud Pile. Between 1969 and 2010, when Livingston had its final commencement, the Piscataway-based college was a hub of innovation for Rutgers University. Livingston  adopted the slogan “Strength Through Diversity,” which is now a foundation of the overall Rutgers University experience.


Photos courtesy of Rutgers Magazine.




Documentation of Livingston College History

— A short history of Livingston College, from its planning in 1965 to its final commencement in 2010, is available on another page on this site.

— Several authors have written about Livingston College’s history in both popular and scholarly works. See a selected bibliography.

— For a list of student yearbooks produced during Livingston College’s history, including links to cover-to-cover online versions of the yearbooks, please see this page.

In addition to the yearbooks, handbooks, newspapers and other publications and documents from Livingston College, scanned by the Internet Archive, are available.

Louis Economopoulos, 1973Many of the materials are from the collection of Louis T. Economopoulos (pictured at left), a 1973 graduate of Livingston College.

— Kenneth Lew has included a few Livingston College documents within his collection of publications and other documents on New Brunswick and Rutgers history. The Livingston College items are:

* Livingston College – Admission to the University in New Brunswick, New Jersey (1971). (The 1969 and 1970 editions of the same document are available in LAA’s collection hosted by the Internet Archive.)

* To Members of the Class of 1983 (March 1, 1979)

* Dear Freshman (May 12, 1979)

Student playing pool in Livingston student union, 1978— Rutgers’ Special Collections and University Archives (held within Alexander Library on the College Avenue campus in New Brunswick) holds numerous documents on Livingston College’s history. Note that the documents themselves are available for review in person only at the library. Among the relevant Livingston College documents are:

Records of the Office of the Dean of Livingston College, Ernest A. Lynton, 1965-1973

Guide to the Rutgers Grass Roots – Progressive Activists Files, 1921-1993 (1979-1993, bulk)

— The Penn State University (PSU) Libraries website DOES offer online access to some documents related to Livingston College’s history, via the Horowitz Transaction Publishers Archive. 

In August 2006 the Historical Collections and Labor Archives (HCLA) division of the Special Collections Library of the PSU acquired the corporate archives of Transaction Publishers, a gift of Dr. Irving Louis Horowitz, chairman of the board of Transaction Publishers and the Hannah Arendt Distinguished University Professor (Emeritus), Department of Sociology, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Top photo: A model showing the three Quads dorms and Tillett Hall. Frank Grad and Sons, Architects, 1965–70, photo dated April 20, 1966. The quads were reinterpretations of the quadrangular colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, broken up into smaller volumes along each side. The shape creates an intimate outdoor courtyard. Source: R-Photo, Buildings and Grounds, Box 33, Livingston College, Architectural Model folder, as published in the article, The early years of Livingston College, 1964–1973: Revisiting the “college of good intentions.” Courtesy of Rutgers University Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.

Center photo: Louis T. Economopoulos (LC’73), covering Rutgers lacrosse as a reporter for The Home News in 1973.

Bottom photo: Student playing pool at the Livingston student union, 1978. The current Livingston Student Center opened in 1986 and was expanded in 2010. Tillett Hall was the previous home of student activities, including the dining hall and pub.




Early History: 1960s and 1970s

Hilda HidalgoAccording to a December 1973 article in The Journal of Teacher Education, by Hilda Hidalgo, Chairman of the Department of Urban Studies and Community Development at Livingston College:

  • “Livingston College … opened its doors in 1969 with a freshman class of about 600 men and women” (Hidalgo, 1973).
  • “Dr. Ernest A. Lynton, a physicist, scholar and humanist, has been the College’s main ideological architect; he was appointed dean by former Rutgers University President Mason W. Gross in 1965, when the College was just an idea” (Hidalgo, 1973).
  • According the college catalog for 1971-1972, This Is Livingston (quoted in Hidalgo, 1973), Livingston College students had formed “multiple ethnical and special interest groups, including the Black Student Union, the United Puerto Rican Students, The Foreign Students Group, the Third World Coalition, Women’s Liberation Group, and the Commuters’ Association. In addition, students may join the Philosophy Club, Psychology Association, Student Employment Service, Peer Counseling Group, and others. Any group of at least fifteen students may start a club; they may then apply to the Club Finance Board for funding.”
  • “Livingston College’s message can best be summarized by quoting excerpts of Dean Ernest Lynton’s commencement address to our first full graduating class of 500 seniors on May 20, 1973” (quoted in Hidalgo, 1973):

This Is Livingston - cover of Livingston College catalogWe have shown, unmistakably that a College within a university can contribute to the highest levels of scholarship, research, and instruction of a university, while at the same time it can meet the educational needs of a broadly heterogeneous student body — the needs of black and Puerto Rican, the needs of the poor as well as the rich, the needs of the sons and daughters of working-class parents as much as those of the progeny of merchants and bankers — the needs as well of older and of part-time students as much as those of younger, and full-time ones.

There are two common threads running through this multifaceted educational enterprise. One is a universal commitment to quality — and that is something which we have had to learn from each other slowly and sometimes painfully. It is only in a truly multiracial institution like ours that the white liberal can learn, from his black and Puerto Rican colleagues and critics, that the greatest arrogance of whites is their low expectation with regard to the performance of minority students — and gradually the lesson is being learned that high expectations and demanding goals are what each of us owes to every one of our students.

And this common emphasis on quality makes possible the second common thread of our effort — the refusal to accept any track system of education in which students are channelled and boxed in according to their background. The most important feature of Livingston’s fascinating educational mix is that it provides for all students the full range of opportunities — and encourages each to explore the very limits of his or her potential and aspirations, regardless of background and prior training. You who graduate here today have come from many different societal groups, many races and classes, many backgrounds. You go from here into a wide variety of occupations — further graduate and professional education, medical and law schools, jobs in private and public agencies, teaching and — inevitably — some with no jobs at all. A great diversity — but the achievement of the College is that there is no correlation between where you are going and where you came from.

To be many things to many people, to provide a broad spectrum of education and career opportunities, to serve the needs of a heterogeneous student body — such achievements should, indeed must, be the ultimate aims of all colleges and all universities — but as yet Livingston stands nearly alone in this.


TABLE 2: Racial Distribution — Livingston College 1972-73 (“Statistics provided by Livingston College registrar and office of the Dean,” as quoted in Hidalgo, 1973)

 

Categories White Black P.R.
[Puerto
Rican]
Asian Total
Students No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
2409 80 448 15 72 3 59 2 2988 100
Faculty 173 72 52 22 8 3 7 3 240 100
Administrators* 10 40 12 48 3 12 0 0 25 100


* Administrators — Under this category we have included only administrators listed by name and function in the Livingston catalog, representing only key positions with considerable responsibility and authority. Clerical staff has been omitted.
 


Hidalgo, H. (1973). No one model American: A collegiate case in point.  The Journal of Teacher Education, 24(4), 294-301.