The top item on the list is something he inherited - implementing a vast higher-education overhaul, enacted last month, that, like the clock, has many moving parts, including a new partnership between Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University.
While Rutgers University needs to better understand the financial ramifications of the restructuring, Barchi said, it will not cause a tuition increase - though that doesn't mean there won't be tuition hikes. His objective, he said, will be to keep tuition "absolutely under control."
Tuition varies by school and program, but a typical full-time in-state student in the arts and sciences at New Brunswick will pay $13,073 this year in tuition and mandatory fees.
He also pledged to address spending on sports, which has drawn controversy on campus in recent years.
Barchi, 65, formerly president of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, said he would focus on creating a strategic plan for Rutgers' future - hiring key leadership personnel, fund-raising, looking for efficiencies in the budget, and better marketing the university's image, especially outside the state.
Perhaps most important, his first year will be spent preparing to implement the state's higher-education restructuring plan, under which Rutgers is slated to absorb parts of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, including the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
The university's two governing boards have yet to formally sign off on the plan that the legislature passed and that Gov. Christie signed after months of controversy, though prominent members of the two bodies have expressed approval.
"It is a massive undertaking," Barchi said, speaking largely in support of the plan, in particular of its potential to allow Rutgers to grow in the health sciences.
He was pleased Rutgers-Camden would remain part of Rutgers under the legislation signed last month by Christie. The governor had called for the Camden campus to be merged with Glassboro-based Rowan, a proposal that ignited intense opposition among faculty, alumni, and students at Rutgers-Camden.
Instead, Rutgers-Camden emerges from the controversy with new autonomy, even as it forms a partnership with Rowan on health programs.
"If I had to write the plan from the beginning, this is the Rutgers-Camden organization I would have chosen," Barchi said. "I'm very pleased that we will still maintain a true Rutgers presence in Camden and that we will not lose what is an integral part of the fabric of the organization."
Barchi spent the past 40 years of his career in higher education in Philadelphia, but he and his wife last weekend left their Society Hill home and relocated to the Rutgers president's house on the Busch campus in Piscataway.
Barchi said his wife, Francis Harper Barchi, a senior fellow in the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, will become a faculty member in January at Rutgers' School of Social Work.
A neuroscientist, Barchi ran Jefferson from 2004 until this year and before that spent 27 years at Penn, first as a faculty member and then as provost. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Georgetown University and his doctorate and medical degree from Penn.
Barchi emerged as the leading candidate for the Rutgers presidency after a nine-month search. He will earn $650,000 annually - his predecessor made $550,000 last year - and has committed to five years at a minimum.
He spent his first week in meetings with senior management and academic leadership, in addition to welcoming about 7,000 freshmen at a weekend convocation.
"I'm really impressed with the level of enthusiasm I've felt here from faculty, staff, and students," Barchi said.
He has not been out on campus much yet and is learning his way around.
"I'm still trying to find my way home," he said. (The president's house is about two miles from his office.)
He said he would make a point of meeting and talking regularly with students, recalling his "fireside chats" with students at Penn when he was provost.
He said he also would forge relationships with local and state government leaders and already has talked with Christie and other key officials, including providing input as the higher-education restructuring plan was finalized.
"This," Barchi said of the governor, "is someone I can work with."
Barchi, who played lacrosse and football as an undergraduate, emphasized his support for sports, but said his goal would be to shrink the amount of money the university has spent subsidizing sports programs, currently about $18 million of the $60 million athletic budget. He noted that $10 million of the $18 million goes for athletic scholarships.
"My commitment is to try to continue to drive that number down," Barchi said, while trying to increase revenue from sports sponsorships.
The university has come under criticism from faculty for its athletics spending, while other areas of the university have faced cutbacks.
Barchi defended the quality of Rutgers' program and the educational performance of its athletes, noting that the university consistently ranked high in the NCAA's academic-progress rating - first in the nation in 2010.
"We're doing something right," he said. "We ought to get that message out there."
It took Barchi about a half-hour to repair the American grandfather clock, New York circa 1825. But don't look for him to insist upon a hands-on approach to every problem.
"Recruit the right people and let them do what they can do," he said. "I'm not a micromanager."
Robert L. Barchi talks about Rutgers university's future at:
and about clocks at:
Contact Susan Snyder
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