Rutgers Groundbreaking Ceremony: Pat Hobbs & Ray Lesniak Reactions

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Watch Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs and Senator Ray Lesniak discuss the historic facility groundbreaking during this morning's ceremony outside of the RAC.

RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center Groundbreaking Quotes

PATRICK HOBBS: It's my pleasure to welcome everyone to today's ground breaking ceremonies. This is an historic day for Rutgers athletics. Today, as we unveil the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center we loudly proclaim that the transfer information of Rutgers Athletics continues, and it will include the very best of recovery, healing and sports medicine.

Today demonstrates that when all of us come together in a cause, government, the corporate community and Rutgers faithful there is no for our student athletes, our coaches and our university.

This is a great turnout by everyone. I want to say thank you to everyone who is here, and cares about Rutgers Athletics today. We have coaches, alums, friends, former athletic director Bob Mulcahy is here, thank you all for coming out today.

I want to especially welcome members of our legislature Senator Lesniak, Senator Kean, Senator Diegnan, and Assemblyman Wisniewski. Welcome also to everyone here from RWJBarnabas RWJBarnabas Health, led by its president and CEO Barry Ostrowsky, board chair Jack Morris, vice chair Marc Berson and chief academic officer, Steve Jones.

Our Rutgers Board Chairman, Greg Brown, could not be here today but we are joined by athletic committee chairman, Ken Schmidt, as well as many members of our board of governors, board of trustees and board of overseers.

Now there are many people we need to thank but before we do that, we need the right backdrop, so I'm going to ask President Barchi, Barry Ostrowsky and Brian Strom to join me up here on the sides of this.

Pretty impressive, right, folks I see our student athletes are smiling back there very, very broadly.

Before I introduce Dr. Barchi, there's a few people I do want to say thank you to, special thanks:

Tony Calcado, our executive vice president, strategic planning and operations, and our chief operating officer and his team, especially Dave Schultz, thank you.

And you have to pardon me this, but I'm a former law school dean, so I'm going to thank the lawyers. Want to thank our general counsel John Hoffman and his associate counsel, Alex Perez and Joe Milestone, and all the RWJBarnabas lawyers that worked on this much.

Our architects, Perkins Eastman, led by Scott Schiamberg and his team. They know the importance of this building and they are going to build us a great facility, and you can see that by this rendering today.

Without a doubt the two people that have worked hardest on this over the last couple of months whose phones were burning every single day, by deputy AD, Sarah Baumgartner, and RWJBarnabas vice president for corporate partnerships, Justin Edleman. Give them a round of applause.

Of course the biggest thank you is reserved for our donors. So many people have responded to our call to support the Big Ten build and today is an example of what happens when people come out and say, yes, we're going to make a change. This is going to be a different time for Rutgers Athletics, and it starts with me. I especially want to thank the great leadership of the following people:

Barbara Bauer and her late husband, Bill.

Greg Brown, chairman of our board of governors and his wife, Anna, Art and Terry Certosimo, Bob and Harriett Druskin, Ron and Joanna Garutti, Jason and Debbie Newcomb, Rob and Laurie Platek, Steve Plofker, and Bobbi Brown, Gary and Barbara Rodkin, Jeff and Amy Towers, and Dan Wheeler.

Please give them a big round of applause. It's now my pleasure to introduce the head coach of Rutgers University, Dr. Barchi -- he is our head coach.

Dr. Barchi came to Rutgers a little more than four years ago, and time and time again, he's demonstrated his transformational leadership. He's managed the nation's largest higher education integration incorporating UMDNJ into Rutgers. He's overseen our move into the Big Ten, and he's changing the physical face of Rutgers university with the construction of 1.6 billion dollars in new academic buildings, research facilities and residence halls on every Rutgers campus, including the new Honors College in New Brunswick.

Today he continues that building effort with the launch of this new athletic facility. Rutgers is a different and better place because of Bob Barchi and it will only get better in the years ahead.

Please, everyone, Rutgers President, Bob Barchi.

PRESIDENT BARCHI: I'm not sure about this promotion to head coach. Makes me feel very insecure. But this is an exciting day, and I think everybody here realizes that. I want to thank you all for coming out. The weather is really cooperated with us.

It's a milestone day for Rutgers Athletics. If you think back when we made the decision to enter the Big Ten, we knew, it was going to be a haul. We knew there were things that we had to do. We knew it was going to take us a number of years to build the sports programs themselves, to bring the leadership team in terms of AD and coaches, and we also knew that we are were going to have to do a lot of work to make our facilities worthy of being competitive in this new league and put us on a par with recruiting the very best athletes.

And one of the things we did when Pat came on board as our new AD was to challenge him to generate a vision for where we were going, and he developed the concept of the Big Ten build, what that should look like, how it should address all the issues of not just our sports teams themselves but the Title IX issues that were behind it, how do we get to be really at the forefront of athletics in this new competitive environment of ours.

And he and his team have responded magnificently to this. I think we all recognize the challenge and the vision in the plan itself, the fund-raising that he has been able to stimulate and I want to personally thank you, Pat, and what your team has done to make this possible.

As I see this today, there are three reasons why we have been able to pick up a shovel and throw some dirt right here in this spot -- well, maybe four.

One is that we've got to cover up this wall. So we'll get that one off the table. But really the big three reasons are these. First it was Pat's ability to motivate all of our supporters. And that includes people who have been supporters of Rutgers for many years and have come forward right now when it really mattered to double down; and it involves a lot of people who are new supporters for Rutgers for whom this is the place that they want to make their stand and basically, in less than nine months, has raised over $30 million to make this possible. And I believe that sets a record for Rutgers Athletics in terms of the speed at which we have able to move.

The second is really the remarkable support we've received from our public partners from the legislature, and having Ray Lesniak and Tom Kean as co-sponsor bring legislation forward that the governor was willing to sign and put $25 million worth of tax credits on the line for Rutgers to use as part of the resources to build this facility and related construction projects with it.

Without that initial spark, that stimulus, that said, we are going to do this, and we are behind you, I don't think we would have gotten that $30 million in private fundraising, and I don't think we would be here today. Senators, both of you and your colleagues, we thank you for that. We appreciate it.

And the third reason has to do with the naming of this building itself. There's a long history of support between RWJ University Hospitals and its former CEO, Steve Jones, and Rutgers Athletics. Both Steve personally and the hospital as a unit has been a long-time supporter of Rutgers.

Steve, you're with us today and I want to thank you again for that. When RWJUH merged with Barnabas Healthcare to create this new entity, the CEO of the new entity, Barry Ostrowsky, made the decision that he was going to double down on that relationship with Rutgers and create what is really a very deep commitment, long-term binding of Rutgers as a healthcare educational and research and delivery engine through Rutgers Health and this new entity of RWJBarnabas Health to create the largest academic healthcare system in the state, by far, and one of the largest in the nation with huge potential.

Now, he could have done that in a lot of places, and, in fact, he has already committed to do so for our medical research and for our clinical development. But he's taken it a step further by saying: I'm going to partner with you in this important area, as well. An area where Steve and his colleagues have already invested and shown their support by saying: I'm going to build with you, with Rutgers, with RWJBarnabas a world-class sports medicine facility to support your 625 athletes, your students, your faculty, your staff and oh, by the way, the entire community and the rest of the state and it's going to be focused right here. And I'm not just going to partner with you to build that clinical care piece. I'm going to partner with you to build this facility.

And it really is because of that deep partnership and the willing to commit the funds to the facility as well as the clinical entity, that it's made it possible for us to take this over the line. And it's because of that, that the board of governors this morning voted unanimously to approve the naming of this building as the RWJBarnabas Health Sports Performance Facility, and that's what you see on the renderings behind you.

I want to shout out a special thanks to Barry and everyone on his team for continuing the great support that Steve started and for letting us get this building in the ground. Thank you very much.

PATRICK HOBBS: Thank you, Coach Barchi.

Barry Ostrowsky, a proud Rutgers alumnist leads the state's largest healthcare system: 33,000 employees, 9,000 doctors, 11 acute care hospitals covering five million people throughout New Jersey. He has made an absolute commitment to making our communities healthier and improving the lives of our residents across the state. Through his leadership, RWJBarnabas Health has spearheaded many trailed blazing initiatives to improve the health status in communities, and today he announces the latest initiative, the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center.

And I just learned a short while ago, that Barry went to a heavy equipment fantasy camp. And so he's itching to get on that piece of equipment, forget the shovels, he wants to get on that and start digging. So don't be surprised if next summer you come over here to watch our baseball game or something and Barry is on a bulldozer moving stuff around for our building.

Please welcome Barry Ostrowsky.

BARRY OSTROWSKY: Good morning, everyone. I hate secrets like that being told in public. I'm always nervous when I speak after Bob Barchi. Being an alum, I have a feeling he'll revoke my diploma if I say the wrong thing.

This is a very exciting morning for our organization and on behalf of our 33,000 employees, our trustees and physicians, we are delighted to make this investment with our long-standing and per pet wall partner, Rutgers University.

A seamless partnership like the one we have been developing with Rutgers, we think is critical to the success of both institutions. We are a mission-driven, community-focused organization, using our resources and assets to make our communities better.

Rutgers of course is a world-class internationally renowned teaching institution, which continues to distinguish itself in sciences every day. We both and we all love athletics and we understand that this is an important part of collegiate life.

It's an important way to get the name recognition that Rutgers deserves, and in order to do that, we need -- for the program and that sports medicine program will be housed in this beautiful building.

So as an alum, I happen to be a lawyer, also, so that I have to admit to. I feel so proud to be standing here and being part of a ceremony that will help define our organization as it continues to make important investments in the partnership with Rutgers University. Thank you very much.

PATRICK HOBBS: Among the first and most important steps that President Barchi took to assure the creation of the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences was to recruit Dr. Brian Strom from the University of Pennsylvania and as the inaugural chancellor of RBHS and is vice president for health affairs at Rutgers University.

Dr. Strom is at the center of every aspect of what we are doing with respect to health and wellness at Rutgers, and for the state, nationally and globally and the people that we serve. His energy and remarkable focus are already making Rutgers biomedical and health sciences a national leader. We are fortunate to have him here, Dr. Strom.

BRIAN STROM: On behalf of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, I am delighted to be here today to join with the Rutgers Athletic Department and our primary clinical affiliate and partner in healthcare delivery, Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health. This is just one more example of the great strides that Rutgers has made since July 1, 2013 when the integration happened.

Founded on that day, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences now combines eight health professional schools, along with five research institutes. As an institution we have significant expertise in orthopedic surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, physical therapy, nutrition and behavioral healthcare, to name just a few that are relevant to today's announcement.

In fact, we recently recruited a new president and CEO for our university behavioral healthcare with the behavioral counselor to the National Football League and to the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Hockey League's Pittsburgh Penguins and several Pittsburgh-area college and university health departments.

We have just begun to celebrate the constructive changes for the health and education of the people of New Jersey, which in addition to today's event includes the launching of Rutgers health, the clinical care delivery division of Rutgers University and Rutgers Health Group, the integrated interprofessional practice plan of the university.

Today's groundbreaking is just one more example of our revolutionary progress. For our athletics program, this facility will be a great benefit to our scholar athletes, their families and the broader community with the Big Ten caliber of training performance management injury prevention, rehabilitation, and healthcare that will be available here.

For RBHS with our diverse health professions students, interns, residents, faculty clinicians and researchers it, provides an ideal site to train the next generation of sports medicine professionals and for advancing scholarship techniques and novel methods for treatment and prevention of sports-related injuries.

This is also the next logical step in our partnership between RBHS specifically and RWJBarnabas Health that will help us recruit nationally-recognized researchers, specialists and clinical staff to provide the highest clinical quality care, leading edge research and top-tier health education and create a nationally-recognized academic health center in New Jersey.

Under one roof will combine the best resources and scholarship research athletics and healthcare available in the State of New Jersey.

All this would not have been possible if it were not for this stark integration that created the new comprehensive Rutgers University. We thank the governor, Senator Lesniak, Senator Kean, Senator Diegnan and members of the state legislature for your leadership in these issues where healthcare and higher education meet.

Thank you to President Barchi for your commitment and support to an academic center of unqualified excellence in clinical care, research and scholarship.

At RBHS, thank you to Barry Ostrowsky and our many partners Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health. There are great things to come from this partnership. There will be great things and great benefits for both institutions, our students and most importantly our patients. RBHS has a lot to offer our students, as well, and we look forward to participating in this great new endeavor. Thank you.

PATRICK HOBBS: Thank you, Brian.

This project went from the abstract to the concrete when our partners in Trenton enacted legislation that provided critical tax credits to assist with a significant portion of this financing, the program envisioned by Senator Ray Lesniak was enacted with critical assists by bill sponsors, Senate Republican leader Tom Kean, Jr., Patrick Diegnan, Assemblyman Wisniewski and others and of course, the support of our Governor, Chris Christie.

Gentleman, you all deserve our thanks and recognition. I would ask you to do that with me again. (Applause).

Senator Lesniak is the longest-serving Rutgers alumnus in the legislature. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1971. Seven years later he was elected to the New Jersey Assembly, and in 1983 was elected to the State Senate.

For those of you on the Senator's e-mail list, you know that barely a week goes by when you don't receive an e-mail talking about some accomplishment at Rutgers University. Rutgers has no stronger advocate in Trenton that Ray Lesniak. Please welcome Senator Lesniak.

SENATOR LESNIAK: So far you've heard from two lawyers, two doctors, well, you're going to hear from another lawyer.

And everyone knows, as Pat says, that I do bleed Rutgers scarlet. After all, I mean, I did spend seven of the best years of my life as an undergraduate here at Rutgers. That's not a joke. That happens to be true.

We're here today, it all started with the vision of Bob McKay. He had the vision to see how important to Rutgers, not only sports, but academically, entry into the Big Ten would be. He also had the wisdom to get me involved on it -- applause, please.

But of course, then the naysayers started. Our friends in the press, they were very skeptical. The press is supposed to be skeptical. The Rutgers Senate came out with a report that as an economics major, made me blush. Because any report, if you put garbage in, you're going to get garbage out and what they did was basically say that a dollar spent on athletics is a dollar that's not going to be spent on a library, on a laboratory or on faculty salaries. Well, that's just not true.

And to prove that wasn't true, and to get things rolling, I commissioned an economic report. A real economic report. And I approached a handful of Rutgers donors to help finance it. I know this guy likes to stay in the background. But he said to me, he pledged help and he said, if whatever you're short, I'll make up the difference and he certainly did and that's Jeff Towers. Jeff, thank you for standing up for that.

And the significance of that report, it showed empirically by analyzing other Big Ten universities, how the benefits, economically, academically, are more than dollar for dollar. Indeed, every dollar invested here, all of your donor dollars produces two and three dollars more in return. And that helped not only with within the university but it helped us get the tax credit bill through.

You know the budget is tight certainly in the State of New Jersey and what I heard was: Ray, seriously, seriously, 25 million for a nursing school maybe or 25 million for a dormitory, laboratory, other infrastructure needs but for athletics, seriously, you really want to -- come on. Don't ask us to do this.

But then I showed him the report. Showed him the report that not only was it important academically and financially to Rutgers, it was important financially to the state. The income that is going to be generated from having a Big Ten quality program which needs a Big Ten quality facility.

And bringing in RWJ Barnabas into the equation shows the wisdom of that; that every dollar we invest here in this athletics program and building the Big Ten facilities, means tenfold in terms of Rutgers brand, President Barchi always talks about the $5 million of free publicity we get every year. And it's not just for the football program. It's not just for the basketball. It's for the men's, women's basketball. It's for every single sport, will be Big Ten quality, and it's thanks to the team work of everyone here and I'm pleased to be part of it. Thank you.

PATRICK HOBBS: Senator Lesniak knew that an enactment of the tax credits for this project would be tough and require a bipartisan effort to make it a reality. He turned to Senator Tom Kean.

Senator Kean is a Republican leader and ranking member of the Senate Higher Education Committee and he's a dedicated public servant who at his core knows that bipartisan inclusions are the best solutions and makes great things happen when big goals are embraced.

Building this new sports medicine and multi-sport training facility was a very big goal. It was a big goal that could only be accomplished if members of both parties pulled together on behalf of our university. Senator Kean brought bipartisanship to this effort, and his commitment to Rutgers helped make this project a reality.

Please welcome Senator Tom Kean, Junior.

SENATOR KEAN, JR.: Thank you, Pat. Thanks for being here today. What a wonderful morning.

Think about where we were eight years ago. Before the Building Our Future Bond Act that focused on academic and classrooms. Think about before the Rutgers merger that made sure that NIH funding and all those national eyes were on Rutgers; and where we were before the true partnership between RWJBarnabas, between the leadership at Rutgers, the partnership with the legislature, all those things came together because we expected excellence from this institution and from this partnership.

Extraordinary things can happen when leadership gets involved. Leadership of all these institutions made a difference, will make a difference for generations to come. This is truly a revolutionary time, not just for Rutgers, in its proud 250-year history but present and future alumni, present and future athletes, people around the globe who will recognize the strength that is this partnership. It is an honor and privilege to be part of it. Congratulations on your great success here today.

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