Higher Ed Merger Clears Both Houses
The Rutgers Board of Governors adopted a resolution today by a vote of 9-1, allowing New Jersey's lawmakers to continue with a newly-revised overhaul plan for the state's higher education system. Hours later, legislation was advanced by the state Assembly and Senate; it's now headed to the Governor's desk.
The resolution offered support for merging most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with Rutgers, but only if Rutgers could maintain control of its Camden campus. The board also indicated that the legislation's financial, organizational and academic details must be thoroughly reviewed, and the board can disapprove of any merger.
The resolution noted that negotiations with legislative leaders and the Governor led to the latest draft of the legislation. Chris Christie expressed strong support for the revised measure during Thursday night's Ask the Governor program.
"We are not, by this resolution, endorsing legislation we have not read," said Gerald Harvey, Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors.
The effective date of the legislation would be July 1 of next year, so the Governors board and the Board of Trustees would have an adequate amount of time to analyze the proposal. The trustees have not yet offered their opinion on the revised plan.
The Rowan University merge with Rutgers-Camden would no longer be in play. Instead, a new board would be created to oversee joint health-science education between the institutions.
Democratic Senators Donald Norcross and Joe Vitale hailed the "consensus" as a great leap forward for higher education in New Jersey.
"This is a win for everybody," Norcross said:
“It’s a win for New Jersey’s entire academic community. It’s a win for the medical facilities in all regions of the state. It’s a win for the business community, which will benefit from the advanced scientific research. It’s a win for the state’s economy, which will add good-paying jobs. And it’s a win for South Jersey, which will receive substantially more education-related funds from Trenton and for Camden, which will benefit from the infusion of new revenue, new development and more business activity.”