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Robert Barchi

Honorary Degree Recipient: Doctor of Humane Letters   

Robert Barchi

Rutgers is proud to bestow upon Robert Barchi an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Barchi served with distinction as the university’s 20th president, from 2012 to 2020, one of the most exciting moments of Rutgers’ long history.  

A National Institutes of Health-funded researcher in neuroscience and neurology, Barchi served on the University of Pennsylvania faculty for three decades. His research accomplishments earned him election to the National Academy of Medicine and his skills as an administrator resulted in his appointment as provost and chief academic officer during his final five years at Penn. He then led Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia as president for eight years before being tapped to lead Rutgers.  

His administrative and medical expertise immediately paid dividends as Barchi guided the 2013 formation of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS), a major division of the university established through restructuring legislation that brought into Rutgers most units of the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Five years later, he played a pivotal role in an affiliation agreement between RBHS and RWJBarnabas Health to jointly operate New Jersey's largest and most comprehensive academic health system. 

Barchi led the development and implementation of an ambitious universitywide strategic plan, the first at Rutgers in nearly 20 years, and creation of a corresponding physical master plan. He helped lead Rutgers into the Big Ten Athletic Conference, a group of similarly sized leading research institutions, and the conference’s academic consortium, the Big Ten Academic Alliance. 

Among other projects, Barchi launched the Honors College at Rutgers–New Brunswick, implemented a plan to ensure the continued strength of the humanities at Rutgers, championed greater faculty diversity across the university, overhauled Rutgers' administrative systems, and focused efforts on improving the student experience while increasing access and affordability. In-state tuition increases during his tenure averaged less than 2.5 percent, significantly lower than those prior to his arrival. During his tenure, undergraduate enrollment increased by more than 10 percent. 

Working with Rutgers alumni and friends, he completed the university's first billion-dollar capital campaign, and annual giving to the university more than doubled in his tenure. After helping advocate for passage of a statewide bond referendum for higher education construction, Barchi directed a capital program totaling more than $2.5 billion in planning, design, and construction of academic and student-services facilities across all Rutgers locations. 

In 2016, Barchi oversaw the yearlong celebration of Rutgers’ 250th anniversary, highlighted by then-President Barack Obama delivering the Commencement address in Piscataway. 

Barchi holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from Georgetown University, and Ph.D. and M.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to the National Academy of Medicine, he was also elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians and named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Neurological Association, and the American Academy of Neurology. 

President Emeritus Barchi is married to Francis Harper Barchi, a faculty member in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.