Hell no, say Rowan faculty

The faculties of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan universities are uniting against a purportedly improved proposal to semi-merge their institutions.

The faculty senate at Rowan, a campus where anti-merger sentiment has until now been more muted than at Rutgers-Camden, issued a statement Sunday questioning key elements of the much-discussed legislative compromise.

"While claiming to improve governance structure for Rowan and Rutgers-Camden, the new legislation (specifically the formation of a joint Board of Governors with 'full authority over all matters concerning the supervision and operations of Rowan University and Rutgers University-Camden') will instead diminish the autonomy and potential growth of both universities," Senate President Eric Milou, a professor of mathematics, said in the statement.

On Monday, Rowan’s board of trustees will hold a special meeting to discuss the merger proposals; last week Rutgers' separate trustee and governor boards jointly declared that their university must be party to Statehouse initiatives to "restructure" higher education in New Jersey. The position emanates from a statement of principles the Rutgers trustees had previously endorsed.

Rowan faculty members, like their counterparts at Rutgers, fear ceding academic, administrative and fiscal autonomy to a bi-campus bureaucratic miasma concocted as a supposedly better version of Gov. Chris Christie’s original proposal, in which the Gloucester County campus would have simply (magically?) absorbed its Camden County neighbor.

While proponents claim some sort of merger is necessary to redress historical funding inequities and to bolster higher education and economic development in South Jersey, critics say the new iteration, outlined last week in semi-twin pieces of legislation introduced in the state Senate and Assembly, has more to do with creating a mechanism for cronyism than assuring local control.