Former Rutgers University President Fran Lawrence Dies at 75

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Former Rutgers University President Francis Lawrence, who shepherded the state university into the digital age during a dozen controversial years in office, has died, campus officials said today.

Lawrence died Tuesday at his home in Mount Laurel at age 75, Rutgers officials said in a statement. The cause of his death was not released.

The Rhode Island-born French literature scholar was named Rutgers’ 18th president in 1990 after a long career at Tulane University in New Orleans. He is credited with developing Rutgers’ first long-term strategic plan and overseeing a massive infrastructure project that rewired the university for the internet.

"In many ways, President Lawrence was ahead of his time," said professor and economist Joseph Seneca, who served as Lawrence’s vice president for academic affairs. "Under his leadership, the academic quality of Rutgers grew significantly, the digitization of the university occurred, and the electronic library became a reality, and it remains a powerful research and learning resource for faculty and students who can access data and scholarly journals remotely."

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