History of the Institute and Senator Walter Rand’s Legacy

About Senator Walter Rand

Born in Philadelphia and educated at the University of Pennsylvania, Walter Rand was a proud resident of Camden, New Jersey where he built an outstanding career in public service in the City and the wider South Jersey region. Elected to the Camden Board of Education in 1971, the New Jersey State Assembly in 1975, and the New Jersey State Senate in 1981, Walter Rand was the chief architect of New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund and the South Jersey Transportation Authority, two critical accomplishments in the growth and development of the State and Southern New Jersey in particular. He also was instrumental in launching the Waterfront development that brought the State Aquarium and the Tweeter Center Amphitheater to Camden. 

Senator Rand’s dedication to providing public support for transportation infrastructure was built on his conviction that the welfare of citizens and municipalities depends on regional development. In the same vein, he understood that higher education provides a powerful regional resource and he fought effectively to support Rutgers University’s Camden campus. In recognition of his devotion to Camden, South Jersey communities, and public service, Rutgers University established the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs. As the Southern campus of the State’s land grant institution, Rutgers-Camden is a fitting location for an institute to sustain Senator Rand’s legacy. 

A Research Center Focused on South Jersey

Launched in 2000 with a legislative appropriation and matching funds from Rutgers, the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs was established under the leadership of its first director, Dr. Richard Harris, to honor Senator Walter Rand’s legacy of public service to southern New Jersey and to his home town of Camden.  

Just as Senator Walter Rand combined a tireless search for facts and analysis that shape policy with a commitment to interact with his constituents, WRI strives to provide community-focused research and connect it to the public policy and practice issues of the day in South Jersey, with a strong commitment to bringing community and leaders together to make the connections across research, policy, and practice in the region. 

The unflagging support of then Provost Roger Dennis and then Dean Margaret Marsh was instrumental in assuring the success of WRI as a resource for the campus and for the community. Through their efforts, the Institute continues to receive strong, ongoing commitment and support from the University.  The Institute also benefits from the support of its external Advisory Board, which provides invaluable strategic guidance and organizes an annual event to honor three South Jerseyans of the Year and to raise support for student engagement programming at WRI.