Rutgers Day Draws Tens of Thousands for Fun and Fanfare

A crowd at Rutgers Day 2024
Students, faculty, alumni and community members walking around Voorhees Mall.

More than 500 programs drew visitors to the 16th annual Rutgers Day

Tens of thousands attended the 16th annual Rutgers Day on Saturday to celebrate New Jersey’s largest university.

The rain-or-shine event, which began at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in 2009, was held Saturday on Busch campus in Piscataway and the College Avenue and Cook/Douglass campuses in New Brunswick. 

“We are so happy the weather cooperated this year and we were able to return our wonderful Rutgers Day programming to the outdoors so that our visitors could enjoy the full breadth of our 500-plus programs,” said Melissa Selesky, senior director of strategic events and programs for Rutgers Communications and Marketing (R-Comm). “It's always so much fun to see our visitors enjoying all that Rutgers has to offer.”

Greysdi Melgar, a student at New Brunswick Health Sciences Technology High School, gets her caricature drawn by Matt Many at Voorhees Mall.
Greysdi Melgar, a student at New Brunswick Health Sciences Technology High School, gets her caricature drawn by Matt Many at Voorhees Mall.
Mike Lucas

There were hundreds of events, demonstrations and activities, including games, trivia and music performances on the College Avenue campus; children-friendly science experiments on Busch campus; and farm and agricultural activities at the Cook/Douglass location.

On the shaded, grassy Voorhees Mall, attendees cheered on the Marching Scarlet Knights as members of Rutgers’ marching band performed Saturday morning. 

Staff, students and visitors took the stage to read passages from The Adventures of Pinocchio. The marathon reading was presented by the Department of English and the Writer’s House, an undergraduate learning community.

Moreover, members of the Rutgers Belly Dancer Troupe and other groups performed at the Big R Stage.

“There are a lot of things here to discover,” said Greysdi Melgar, a student at New Brunswick Health Sciences Technology High School who volunteered during the event on College Avenue. “Everybody’s so happy.”

“Rutgers Day is important because it gives us an opportunity to showcase this amazing university, and all the different things that we do, to the citizens of New Jersey,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway, who visited all three campuses. “Anything you can imagine, we’ve got here at Rutgers.”

Heading out of the Busch Student Center into the sunshine, Stephanie Goldrosen beamed.

The teacher at Bound Brook Middle School in Bound Brook, with help from colleagues, was leading a troupe of 60 of her middle schoolers on this annual trip.

“They love it,” she said. “We have to come.”

What’s their favorite part of Rutgers Day? 

“Everything,” she said.

Back on Busch was the Health Village – a space focused on Rutgers Health departments, divisions, programs and other health-related initiatives. 

In addition to free blood pressure and other screenings, attendees could learn more about the university’s health and wellness resources as well as check out a popular attraction and a prime photo opportunity: a giant, inflatable colon that people could walk through.   

A member of the community doing jello-brain surgery at Rutgers Day
Gaurav Gupta, an associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is leading Morgan Nathan, 7, through a demonstration of jello-brain surgery.
Kathleen Nathan

Azeem Wain strolled near the Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering with his children. Rutgers Day, he said, is a must because the university is so central to his life. 

His wife, Fizza Sulaiman, is about to graduate from Rutgers with a master's degree in clinical research management. She was volunteering and they were heading to meet her at her station. His daughter, Alina Sulaiman, wore a Rutgers T-shirt. A seventh grader, she said she can't help but imagine herself in college here someday.

Wain, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, earned a master's degree in biomedical sciences and his medical degree from Rutgers. His two brothers are Rutgers graduates, too.

He said he and his brothers are from a working-class family and participated in the university's Educational Opportunity Fund, a state-legislated program that provides access to higher education for students who demonstrate the potential to succeed in college and qualify for admission based on academic and financial need.

"This place and that program gave us so many opportunities," he said.

Rutgers Day 2024 also featured the annual Scarlet-White Game, a preseason scrimmage between members of the Rutgers football team, at SHI Stadium in Piscataway.

Meanwhile at the Cook/Douglass location, musicians took to the stage at the New Jersey Folk Festival near Passion Puddle. 

“We couldn't have asked for a better Rutgers Day,” said Patricia Kastner, associate director of strategic events and programs for R-Comm. “Besides great weather, the energy of the crowd was amazing, and it was inspiring to see so many visitors enjoying themselves and learning about all the incredible things happening at Rutgers. A huge thanks to the faculty, staff, and students who put in so much hard work to make this day a success.”

The Cook/Douglass location also is home to Ag Field Day. Presented by the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, the event was an opportunity for members of the Rutgers community to learn more about and participate in the university’s environmental and agriculture-related programs. The event featured student exhibitions of dairy cattle, goats, horses, pigs and sheep; arts and crafts; plant and flower sales; and student club activities.
Rutgers Day boasts another child-friendly popular attraction: the petting zoo. Presented by the Veterinary Science Club, farm animals were on hand for visitors young and old to meet in the Round House at the Cook campus farm.