Governor Christie Loves The Higher Ed Merger Plan [AUDIO]
Legislators in both the Assembly and State Senate are pressing ahead with legislation that calls for Rutgers, Rowan and UMDNJ to merge, even though no one is sure how much the move will cost.
Governor Christie is urging lawmakers to approve the plan by June 30th, when a balanced state budget must be in place.
During a town hall meeting Cedar Grove, Christie said, "We need to have as many magnets for business to our state as we can, and one of the great magnets for states is great colleges and universities and research institutions…If we go ahead with the merger here we're talking about for Rutgers, it will go from 52nd in terms of - as research university, research dollars - up to 25th in the country - just by merging assets that we have today…This will be great for the economy in New Jersey, and it'll be great for students as well, because what you're doing is bringing more faculty into - under the Rutgers umbrella- a new organization of oversight for the assets that we already have in Newark."
He says this kind of consolidation "will attract hundreds of millions of dollars more in research grants - which will again help us to attract professors and scientists…All of that is going to free up other money in the university that they're spending now to spend on other disciplines- that they don't have the money to spend on right now…It's going to make Rutgers a bigger, more vibrant university. It's one of the only state universities in America now that doesn't have its own medical school - and it's a big, big deal."
The Governor points out we'll also be consolidating assets in South Jersey "to make Rowan and Rutgers in Camden a more vibrant and attractive place, so we lose less kids over to Philly - which we're losing a lot…Last year New Jersey lost 38 thousand students to go to college out of state. We are the number one exporter of college students in America- no state exports more of its college students than New Jersey, and part of the reason is cause we don't have the seats in New Jersey to do it. Bringing more money in will help Rutgers to expand."
Christie adds for the first time since 1988, "There's a bond issue on the ballot in November. We're going to try to invest in expanding our colleges and universities - and we need to do it. We need to have more seats for people who want to stay home in New Jersey…The Rutgers merger is going to mean, I think great things - in combination with the bond issue- for students, and parents in the state …Cause the other thing it will help to do is to keep tuition costs from going as high as they've been going, because when they have no place else to go - when they're not getting these grants- when we're not investing at the state level in the universities- the only place they have to go for more money is to the parents…I think it's going to be a great thing…We need to make New Jersey better from a higher education perspective. If we do, it's going to be great for our kids and our families. There's going to be a lot of bickering about this, but I am committed to making this change - it needs to be done."