Rutgers Honors Its Longtime Faculty

James W. Hughes, PhD

The university recognized more than 600 faculty members who celebrated decades of service – from 10 to 50 years at Rutgers

No matter what your career goal or curiosity, odds are you’ll find a class to pursue it at Rutgers.

In its 255-year history, the university has put hundreds of thousands of students on the path to success, whether in human resources or health care, environmental science or engineering, art history or animal science, and myriad disciplines in between.

But none of it would be possible without the wisdom imparted by Rutgers’ dedicated faculty. Year after year, this team of accomplished scholars provide their students with the academic rigor and encouragement they need to reach their full potential.

On Sept. 17, the university recognized more than 600 faculty members who celebrated decades of service – from 10 to 50 years at Rutgers – in 2020 and 2021 with gatherings at the President's Tent on the College Avenue campus. The events were organized by University Human Resources and emceed by Vivian Fernández, senior vice president for human resources and organizational effectiveness.

“Honoring the decades of service by our talented and dedicated faculty is a joy as this long-awaited fall semester gets under way,” said President Jonathan Holloway. “Academic excellence abounds at Rutgers, and it is demonstrated by the work across disciplines and in the classrooms of the faculty we are proud to recognize for their years at Rutgers.”

To mark the celebration, Rutgers Today spoke with five longtime faculty to find out what brought them to Rutgers and why they continue to devote many years of their careers to The State University of New Jersey.  

James W. Hughes, PhD 

University Professor
School of Engineering Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Director, Rutgers Regional Report
Former dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
Start Date: July 1971
50 Years

Over the last 50 years, James W. Hughes says he has taken a Forrest Gump approach when it comes to his career, believing that he needed to have an open mind and expect the unexpected if opportunities were going to fall in place.

“It worked out,” said Hughes, a University Professor and former dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy who has spent more than 50 years at Rutgers and was cited in 2019 by The Star-Ledger as one of the 25 most influential people in New Jersey. “Whenever I even thought of leaving, Rutgers made me a better offer.”

The last and only living Rutgers undergraduate to receive a degree in planning engineering in 1965 before planning became its own discipline, Hughes then became the first to receive a master’s degree from the university in city and regional planning in 1969 followed by the first Ph.D. in urban planning and policy development in 1971.

A faculty position followed the same year. Then came his appointment as the Bloustein dean in 1995. In between and since, he has authored numerous articles, regional reports and books on housing, demographics and economic development and provided policy briefings in Trenton and Washington, D.C.

“Planning is such a broad field because everything is important whether it is the job market, economic trends, demographics, municipal finance, development and marketing forecasts,” said Hughes, who is in the process of completing two new books, one on population trends in New Jersey and another about the building of the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Still, the professional accolades Hughes has received over the past five decades are not the most rewarding part of his long academic career. Rather, it has been watching the achievements of his former students who have gone on to become leaders in planning and public policy that bring him the most satisfaction.

That’s due, in part, to a long-ago mentor, Edward B. Wilkins – “Doc Wilkins” to his students and colleagues – who shared his passion with students that the study of engineering, architecture and design should rely on law, economics and political science. Wilkins, who retired in 1976 after a 35-year career at Rutgers, died in 1985.

“I’ve developed so many good relationships and have been so happy to see how well students have progressed in their careers,” said Hughes. “That is the most rewarding part of any faculty member’s job.”

– Robin Lally

Full Story in Rutgers Today

September 22, 2021