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Religion and Sports Management Win Support for Expansion Plans

SAS Entrepreneurial Program Announces Additional 2010-2011 Awardees

One project seeks to make Rutgers a leader in the booming field of sports marketing.

Another will create religion studies programs that explore timely themes like the connection between religion and violence.

feigley273x279Two disparate fields. Two opportunities for innovation.

The projects are the latest initiatives to win support from the School of Arts and Sciences Entrepreneurial Program (SASEP). 

The program, established in the fall of 2010, provides awards of financial and administrative support on a competitive basis to faculty working on novel areas of scholarship, academic programs, and services capable of generating additional income for Rutgers.

“There is clearly no shortage of good ideas or entrepreneurial spirit at SAS,” observes Chris Scherer, Director of SASEP. “The intelligence, creativity, and energy of the SAS faculty is truly overwhelming, and I’m extremely eager to see the proposals that will surface when we have our next round of applications.”

The latest projects include one that will lay the groundwork for a proposed master’s degree program designed to train professionals in all aspects of the international sports marketing.

The proposal reflects the growth of the sports management program within the Department of Exercise Science and Sports Studies.  Starting with 43 students in 2003, the program now has an enrollment of about 600, says Mike Finkelstein, the department’s Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships, who co-wrote the proposal with Professor David Feigley, the department chair.

Sports, meanwhile, has become the sixth-largest industry in the world, Feigley said.

Nevertheless, graduates of Rutgers sports management program have had to go elsewhere to get an advanced degree in the field.

“Our ultimate goal,” Finkelstein said, “is that when prominent leaders in the sports industry are asked where they graduated from, they respond: ‘Rutgers International Graduate School of Sports Marketing.’”

Feigley said he envisions having sports industry leaders working with students, both in the classroom as their instructors, and in internships, as their managers.

“The students will graduate with the skills they need to bring immediate value to the top sports management organizations in the world,”  Feigley said.

jiang photo276x279

The Department of Religion, meanwhile, has been approved for a SASEP grant that will help it prepare programs to meet what the department chair describes as the needs of a post-9/11 world.

“Just one decade into the 21st century, we have discovered that religion still is and will continue to be at the center of national and global issues, major conflicts, and ideological confrontations,” Tao Jiang wrote in the proposal. “At the same time, religions continue to inspire efforts to bring peace and reconciliation in many parts of the world.”

The SASEP grant will allow the department to offer the only master’s degree program in religious studies at a secular institution in New Jersey. The plan also calls for the creation of a certificate program. The topics will include religion and violence, contemplative practices in a secular age, and the pluralistic religious landscape in America.

Jiang noted that Rutgers, unlike seminaries or divinity schools affiliated with religious denominations, provides critical analysis of religion that explores its history, philosophy, and psychology.

“Religion is one of core parts of the American culture landscape, and so the academic study of religion is a critical responsibility,” Jiang said.

He said the new programs will draw future generations of religion scholars as well as a range of professionals such as school teachers, healthcare providers, and social workers looking to add additional expertise to their portfolio.

SASEP is supported through the Office of the President as part of a universitywide initiative to expand revenue-generating academic programs. Awards for a maximum of two years will be provided for strategic development of projects that showcase the academic excellence of Rutgers and provide novel educational services to the community. For more information, contact Chris Scherer at