As an academic institution, Rutgers University has gone through a renaissance in recent years. Not only is the program certainly pointed up athletically, but the research institution and the academic standing of Rutgers has seen it become one of the elite higher learning institutions in the nation.
On the playing field, Rutgers has done well with the Olympic sports for years but has seen surges in success from the large sports such as basketball, led by head coach Steve Pikiell, and football led by head coach Greg Schiano.
What you may not realize is the rich, proud history of Rutgers’ graduates and former attendees that have made their impact felt across the country and beyond. Whether it be actors, politicians, or authors – Rutgers is well represented outside of the playing fields.
Call it pork roll or Taylor Ham…it doesn’t matter. Rutgers has put its stamp on the nation in major ways.
Check out some of the most notable alumni who have eaten at the grease trucks, spent a Friday night (and a few early Saturday morning hours) at Old Man Rafferty’s or have skipped class to go to Menlo Park Mall.
(Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Anders earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Rutgers back in 2001. The actress has seen time in the theatre as well as television, with roles in shows such as Joey and Ted Lasso.
(Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)
Colter obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from Rutgers University. The actor has starred in both television and film. He was the titular character in the Marvel franchise Luke Cage, voiced a character in the Halo video game franchise, and his first major role was in Million Dollar Baby.
(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Davis moved to New Jersey after high school and attended Rutgers, receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting in 1987. Best known for her role as Charlotte in Sex and the City, Davis has also starred in various films, and television shows, as well as a few theatre appearances over her three-decade long career.
(Sipa via AP Images)
DiMaggio, a North Plainfield native, attended Rutgers but left after his junior year to pursue acting. He is known best for his voice acting, specifically as Bender in the animated comedy, Futurama.
He has lent his voice to a wide variety of projects, including huge video game franchises such as Gears of War, Halo, and Destiny. DiMaggio has also appeared in animated versions of mega-franchises such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and various Marvel properties.
(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Flynn, a Miami native, graduated from Rutgers in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. The young actor has already received major roles in hit television shows 13 Reasons Why and True Detective.
(Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports Copyright Rick Scuteri)
There may be no more famous Rutgers alum than Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini. The New Jersey native was the star character in one of the most popular television dramas of all time, The Sopranos. He graduated from Rutgers in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.
(AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)
Lalas attended Rutger from 1988 to 1991. During his four seasons with the Scarlet Knights, he reached the NCAA Final Four in 1989 while leading the team in scoring, and the National Championship game in 1990. He was a third-team All-American both seasons. In 1991, he gained first-team All-American recognition and was selected for the Hermann Trophy. He also played for the United States national team between 1991 and 1998 and was named 1995 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year. Lalas was a two-time Olympian.
The former MLS star left Rutgers prior to finishing his degree, before returning via online classes and earning a bachelor’s degree in English in 2014.
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
If anyone could push Mr. Gandolfini for fame and popularity amongst Rutgers alums, it’s Carli Lloyd. The Delran native is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, two-time FIFA Player of the Year, and a four-time Olympian.
The soccer legend attended Rutgers from 2001 to 2004 was named First-Team All-Big East for four straight years – the first Rutgers athlete to do so. In 2013, Lloyd was inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni.
Actor Paul Robeson, from Princeton, N.J., is shown in London in 1925.
Paul Robeson is one of the most impact Rutgers alumni. In 1915, Robeson became the third African-American student ever enrolled at Rutgers, and the only one at the time. He was elected valedictorian in 1919.
Robeson was an athlete in school, being named a football All-American in 1917 and 1918, as well as lettering in baseball, basketball, and track. The Princeton native is in the college football Hall of Fame.
He would go on to become an important political activist, a professional athlete, and a famous actor.
(AP Photo/Wally Fong)
Another actor, Scheider is best known for his roles in major hits such as The French Connection and Jaws. He was also an amateur boxer in New Jersey prior to becoming an actor.
Scheider graduated from Rutgers in 1950 and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 1985.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
David Stern is best known for being the commissioner of the National Basketball Association from 1984 to 2014. Stern oversaw NBA basketball’s growth into one of the world’s most popular sports during the 1990s and 2000s.
Stern was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity and graduated from Rutgers in 1963 with a B.A. in history.
(MPS-USA TODAY Sports)
Jim Valvano, or ‘Jimmy V’, was a long-time college basketball coach and broadcaster. While the head coach at NC State, his team won the 1983 NCAA Division I men’s basketball title. He spent his college years playing for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, graduating in 1967.
Valvano had a tough, public battle with cancer. He may best be known for the formation of The V Foundation for Cancer Research whose motto would be “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up,” an ode to his famous ESPYs speech given less than two months before his passing.
His legacy lives on through this foundation, as well as the Jimmy V Award named in his honor, awarded yearly as the ESPY Awards. Each year, a college basketball tournament called the Jimmy V Classic is held in his honor and in support of cancer victims and survivors.