New Brunswick, NJ. 12 May 2013. The Rutgers administration announced today that, following a unanimous vote of the Board of Governors, three graduates of Rutgers have been elected to its Hall of Distinguished Alumni. "We are especially happy to at last have seen our list of distinguished alumni joined by Walt Whitman," said former Dean Karl Krishner, who oversaw the election process. "A proud son of Camden, New Jersey, Whitman set foot on the campus of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, several times between 1819 and 1892. He was also an open, honest and terrific person. His election is long overdue."
When a reporter for Deadspin pointed out that Whitman was actually born in Long Island and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, Krishner said that he would "check and get back." Later, he released a statement saying that "Rutgers concedes that Whitman wasn't actually a son of Camden, NJ. But he did wind up in Camden, and he was proud. We stand by the vote of the committee."
Walt Whitman, Rutgers alumnus
Asked whether Whitman had actually taken courses at Rutgers, Krishner said "Our claim was never that he had actually graduated, or even that he attended classes. He was well known for praising "loafing" in his poetry, and on the strength of that our Department of Exercise Science -- in Whitman's day known as Health and Physical Exercise -- has retroactively granted him credit for several courses in tardive kinesthesiology. So yes, he did step onto the Rutgers campus and he does have a transcript with credits on it. That's what our Hall of Distinguished Alumni requires for election."
The votes on Einstein and Bill Bradley, Krishner said, were somewhat closer. "Several of the Touchdown Club members of the BOG had Einstein confused with Bob Stein, the Kansas City linebacker," he admitted. "We had to spend a couple of meetings clearing that up. But when they understood who Einstein was, we were able to show them evidence that he'd once visited New Brunswick. I gave them a transcript proving that our Mathematics department had retroactively granted him credit for a course in quadratic equations. So there were ultimately no difficulties."
Asked about former NFL linebacker Bob Stein, Krishner said that "several members of the BOG wanted to elect him to the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni even after they understood that he wasn't the same person as Einstein. So that's under investigation as well."
In answer to a question about Bill Bradley, Krishner was reluctant to reveal details. "There is strong evidence," he said, "that coming back to school after Christmas vacation, Bradley once got off the train at New Brunswick by mistake. And there is absolutely no doubt about his having subsequently been a Rhodes Scholar, so no one can question the decision of our Department of Physical Exercise to retroactively award him several credits in 'Principles of Basketball' and 'Playground Management' before he was elected to our Hall of Distinguished Alumni."
Responding to a question about whether physical presence in New Brunswick and partial credits on a transcript was enough to count candidates as Rutgers graduates, Krishner became visibly annoyed."It all depends," he said, in how you interpret the word 'alumni.' To us, an alumni is an alumni. If you were here, and we gave you the credits, you're an alumni."