What lately looks like a lull should not be seen as a sign New Jersey’s university merger mania has abated.
As we speak, perhaps even as we sleep, one group of politicos is struggling to meet Chris Christie’s July 1 deadline for executing the forced divorce between Rutgers University and its Camden campus, thereby enabling a shotgun marriage between Rutgers-Camden and Rowan universities.
As you may have heard, our globetrotting governor insists that disrupting thousands of lives and livelihoods simply must happen so he can dismantle the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and divvy up the goodies.
Why amputating Rutgers-Camden is necessary in order to implement the more sensible components of Christie’s mega-plan is beyond me. I’ve heard the governor has decreed that Rutgers-New Brunswick must let go of Camden in order to obtain UMDNJ’s medical school -- as if, say, Kean or Farleigh Dickinson also were being considered for that prize.
Meanwhile, despite the governor's unshakable faith in his own notions of education reform, another group of politicos is trying to figure out how to get more higher education dollars to South Jersey (the ostensible rationale for the merger) without losing the Rutgers “brand.”
They'd also love to figure out how to keep the prestige-generating School of Law-Camden under the Rutgers nameplate, too. As if marketing, rather than education, were the point of all this.
The first group of politicos is made up mostly of Christie, various other Republicans and a few Rowan-ites dazzled by visions of sugarplums.
The second is composed mainly of the Christie-crats, that southern bloc of Democrats whose expected support for the merger has been shaken by fierce opposition to the scheme.
The pushback emanates from pretty much everyone not included in those first two groups. Meaning, the rest of us.
The people who aren’t at the table as merger-mania train continues to chug behind closed doors.