Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Rutgers-Rowan plan 'unconstitutional'

Yet another trial balloon

Rutgers-Rowan plan 'unconstitutional'

UPDATED AT 11:30 AM

The morning email is exploding with negative reaction to the latest political proposal to “restructure” Rutgers, Rowan and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

 

Dropping on the eve of Wednesday’s crucial vote by two boards overseeing Rutgers, the 11th hour legislative power play is driven largely by Southern Demo/Christie-crats. It seeks to placate many, but  seems likely to satisfy few in either North or South Jersey.

"I think we are headed for a political civil war," Sen. Ron Rice, D-Essex, told the Star-Ledger newspaper.

 

The plan concocted by Rice's fellow Democratic senators Steve Sweeney, Donald Norcross and Joseph Vitale decrees that Rutgers will receive all the good parts of UMDNJ but must surrender its Camden campus, in all but name, to a cumbersome, quasi-independent governing apparatus, a move that’s tantamount to a takeover by Rowan.  See a draft of their Senate bill here.

“The message to the RU Boards of Trustees and Governors is pretty clear....we are giving you all of UMDNJ, and all you have to do is give up jurisdiction -- but not the name -- of Camden campus...so shut up already,” a friend writes.

"It's flatly unconstitutional," Rutgers-Camden law professor Adam Scales says by phone, referring to a component of the plan that calls for leasing the campus to its new overseers.  And on his homepage, Howard Gillette, history professor emeritus at Rutgers-Camden, notes  that "through the device of a 99 year lease, to be compensated at a rate of $1 a year, Rutgers would in effect be giving away the physical assets of its Camden campus, valued conservatively at between $100 and $150 million."

Meanwhile, Rutgers-Camden Chancellor Wendell Pritchett continues to traverse a tightrope. He released a statement that says in part,  "I look forward to working with legislative leaders to refine this proposal to insure the integrity of Rutgers–Camden and to advance our higher education agenda in South Jersey."

But in an internal email, the outgoing Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick seems downright...enthusiastic.

"...overall the bill appears to advance the goals of enhancing medical education across the state, boosting Rutgers’ standing among its peer institutions, and fueling New Jersey’s economic engine," he says.

As a friend writes, "McCormick is tossing Rutgers-Camden over the side, as we always knew he would do."

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