New Jersey Governor Chris Christie unveiled a plan that would merge Rutgers-Camden into Glassboro-based Rowan University in the near future. Those in favor of the merger claim that it would provide better educational choices for students local to the area and would help to spur economic growth in South Jersey. The reactions have been negative though from teachers and students alike at both universities.
One student, Jeremy Abay, is a law student at Rutgers School of Law in Camden.
“If it was Rowan Law School, I wouldn’t be here,” Abay said. “They won’t be able to attract the quality of staff they already have.” Abay also said that the Rutgers name carries a cachet that the Rowan name cannot match. The new university, which would carry the name Rowan University, would become a research-focused university. Raymond Davidson, a senior from Rowan, said that he is concerned with the potential switch to a research-driven university.
“I do think research is important, but the quality of education would drop,” said Davidson. Davidson is a philosophy and religion major. “Graduate students would start teaching classes. Now, we get to study with people who are already experts in their field.”
“Money going to this merger should be going to academic programs. If this is where the state is going with its dwindling funding for higher education, New Jersey has a terrible idea of what education is all about,” Davidson said.
Matt O’Brien is a freshman from Mount Laurel, New Jersey who said that the majority of students at Rowan came to the school “for a small student population and close interaction with teachers. I don’t think students would appreciate having the school double in size.”
Ali A. Houshmand, the interim president at Rowan, said that a change in size could affect the sports programs at both universities as well. The Profs compete at Rowan and the Scarlet Raptors compete at Rutgers Camden, with both schools in Division III of the NCAA. Houshmand said that increased enrollment from a merger could move the sports teams to Division I status.
There are roughly 6,000 students at Rutgers Camden, which is in the downtown section of Camden, while Rowan has 12,000 students who attend classes on a leafy campus in Glassboro. Rowan also has a Camden campus and is developing a Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden. Rowan started as a teachers college in the 1920s, which is when Rutgers Camden began as a law school.
One Rutgers Camden employees, of 31 years, Terese Busbee, said that she disagrees completely with the proposed merger.
“This is a home away from home. I’ve spent my life here,” said Busbee.
Stephanie Ackerman, Rowan’s Student Government Association president, said the following:
“The idea came as a little bit of a shock. But in the long run it could very much benefit Rowan with more research opportunities and better funding. The value of our degrees will increase.”