The Early Years

Assistant professor of Chemistry William S. Myers in 1901 conceived the idea of establishing a course in clay working and ceramics similar to that offered by Ohio State University. Prof. Myers, with the approval of the trustees, proposed a bill to the NJ legislature to provide the facilities for such a course. His intensive campaign of letters and influence of personal friends and leaders of the ceramic industry resulted in the passage of an act on 17 March 1902 that required the “trustees of the State Agriculture College of NJ” to establish a school of ceramics and provided $12,000 to equip a laboratory and $2,500 for annual operating expenses. This was the first expenditure of funds by the State in behalf of Rutgers College and was one of the initial steps toward becoming Rutgers, The State University.

The annual operating budget was increased an additional $2,500 on 14 March 1907. The Department of Clay-Working and Ceramics (first located within the Agriculture College), later to become the Department of Ceramics (reporting directly to the Dean of Rutgers College), was the third such institution of its kind to be established in the country. For twenty years a 1600 sq ft two-story brick building that formerly served as a stable housed the newly formed Department of Ceramics.

Later an additional 1600 sq. ft. was added. The first floor had a machinery room, store room, and a drying & kiln room. The second floor had a class room, library/museum, and the director’s office/laboratory.

A complete description of the building and the equipment can be found in the 1904/05 Rutgers College Catalog, pages 148-9. This building along with another addition and some renovation now houses the offices of the University College, which is the continuing education arm of Rutgers. It is located west of College Avenue across from Old Queens Campus in the interior of the block (behind the Zeta Psi House).