Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Rutgers-Camden's future, on the table

The university's governing boards meet today

Rutgers-Camden's future, on the table

As two Rutgers University governing boards prepare for action on a measure that could block a Borg-like absorption of the Camden campus by Rowan University, the tough-minded young conservatives at SaveJersey.com have released a scathing assessment of the 11th-hour compromise proposal by a trio of  New Jersey Senate Democrats.

The  Save Jersey blogger (and Rutgers-Camden law school alum) Brian McGovern concludes: "Make no mistake, this plan is still a merger between Rutgers and Rowan, the only difference is that for now, the Rutgers name will remain, even if it essentially means nothing."

Noting the notion that a new, semi-autonomous mega-board would oversee a cumbersome amalgam of the two universities, McGovern writes, "essentially, this Joint Board will have the ability to do whatever it wants...Control is ownership. While there is (also) a Rutgers Camden Board being created, this Joint Board has control. That is exactly what the anti-merger movement has been trying to avoid, a school other than Rutgers having significant control over the Camden campus."

Meanwhile, in the interest of fairness, I must also pass along the thoughts of a friend with deep knowledge of higher education in New Jersey -- but no great love for Chris Christie and his Democratic allies in merger mania.

"Rutgers is getting 95% of UMDNJ and what it wants," my friend writes in an email.  "It gets to keep its name on RU-Camden, for the time being...if RU boards pass (a) resolution against this deal, then the legislative leaders and Christie would be justified in going after Rutgers for a major reorganization of the university…a miscalculation here could be catastrophic for the entire university."

Avoiding a catastrophe, of whatever degree, is why I hope the Rutgers boards will not agree to compromise Rutgers-Camden out of existence in all but name.

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