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Rutgers-Camden Holds Forum on Proposed Merger with Rowan University


At the Rutgers-Camden campus, a proposal from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to merge the university with Glassboro-based Rowan University has been met with plenty of negative feedback.

“They have never seen anything like this in the history of the United States,” said Rutgers historian Jacob Soll. Soll is an award-winning author and a MacArthur Fellow who is going to the University of Southern California for a professorship.

“I don’t know one person in the entire system — student or faculty — who thinks this is a good idea,” Soll said.

Dean Rayman Solomon of the Rutgers School of Law-Camden said that he was not interviewed by the Barer Commission of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey as a part of its plan for the restructuring of the higher education system in New Jersey. Solomon talked to about 300 law students on Monday.


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“I was never called to talk to the commission,” Solomon said. Solomon also said that “the specificity of the report comes as a surprise, at least to me.”

It has been suggested that the Rowan-Rutgers University merger in Camden, combining Rowan’s medical school and Rutgers’ law school, would bring in more research funds, allow the merged university to provide more graduate programs, and form better partnerships with local businesses.

“This is not a done deal,” Solomon said. “People who are making decisions — the (Rutgers) board of governors, board of trustees — need to hear from you.”

A petition has been started by Rutgers students, with 3,200 signatures already collected, that would protest the merger. In addition to the petition, the Rutgers’ members of the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers, have also created a plan to fight the merger idea.

Questions were raised by hundreds of students at a forum at Rutgers Camden on Monday. Some students were concerned about the value of their law degree if the name of the school was changed to Rowan, which does not offer a law school. Others were concerned about tuition, current scholarships, the accreditation of a newly named law school and the perception of law school graduates when applying for jobs around the country with firms that might not have heard of Rowan University.

A first-year law student from Columbia, South Carolina, Charles Prescott, said that he decided to come to Rutgers-Camden because of its name.

“Assuming the worst case and this becomes Rowan School of Law, what happens to me? Are we in University of North Dakota land? Where are we?” Prescott asked.

“If this were to happen, if you shop that degree in California or Colorado — I don’t know,” the dean responded.

One faculty member, who asked to remain anonymous, said that plenty of non-tenured staff members were seeking other positions.

“Almost all our junior faculty have been looking for other jobs,” he said.

  • Marianne Modica

    The proposal to separate Rutgers/Camden from the Rutgers system will not only be detrimental to students like me, but to the area of South Jersey. Rutgers has achieved a status as a top research institution that will take decades or centuries for a new regional university to attain. This new university will not be able to recruit top faculty. Rutgers’ current faculty will flee and students like me will leave with them. Research moneys designated to Rutgers will find other recipients. The plan to fold a campus of a great research university into a minor regional university will result in a net loss for the region.
    We at Rutgers/Camden, are Rutgers. We will strongly oppose any effort to change our proud status. We are Rutgers.

  • H. Jonas Javier

    Rutgers-Camden, in and of itself, is NOT a research institution as classified by the Carnegie Foundation. If one looks at the US News & World Report annual collegiate rankings, Rutgers-Camden is classified as a master’s institution — the same classification given to Rowan. No doubt that Rutgers-Camden is a fine institution, but the crux of Rutgers’ high research activity is centered in New Brunswick and Piscataway. The Camden campus benefits from its association with Rutgers by name only. In reality though the Camden campus has largely been underdeveloped, underfunded, and for the most part, relegated as a mere branch campus.

    South Jersey needs its own comprehensive research university. If in the end it excludes the provision of folding the Camden campus into Rowan, then Rowan’s main Glassboro and Camden campuses including its new medical school should be expanded and funded to accelerate the push for full fledged research university status.

  • Cara B

    This proposal is not fully realized. How will this merger be financial supported and how will it truly affect Southern NJ? In time, sure, this could advance Rowan’s status and promote the area. It will take a long time for Rowan to accomplish this status. What happens in the meantime? This is shaky and uncertain. What becomes of one of the redeveloped and safe areas in Camden? Will people still flock to the city of Camden if Rutgers is removed from the area? We could see a downturn in the University and waterfront districts of Camden. A consortium model where Rutgers creates a true merger with Rowan, sharing resources, but still maintaining it’s presence seems like a better short term as well as long term option. Please help stop this merger.

  • Mathews

    Perhaps Rowan University does not have a law school, but it have an engineering school, medical school and one of the best programs in education. It was believe that Rowan University didn’t have the reputation as Rutgers University and one of the reasons is that many of the students that go to Rutgers get the money from their parents; On the other hand, the students in Rowan University have to work hard to achieve what they want to accomplish in life. Another point to take into account is that Rutgers-Camden has been always behind Rutgers-New Brunswick and Rutgers- Newark. In theory it seems that Rutgers is a better institution, but when you compare transcripts of the students is the same thing

  • Steve

    I hope that you are not a product of a Rowan education, you can barely write a complete sentence.

  • dav

    This is about the ability to group together literally the only two College/Universities located truly in South Jersey. Rutgers Camden is a research University with a terrific law school and a very good undergraduate business school. Rowan it a teaching University that has an excellent engineering program and good communications school. Now the proposed “new research school” will be obtaining a medical program at Cooper in addition. Not to mention Rowan has about 10,000 students and Rutgers is around 5,500 including all the MBA students. If you combine the resources and programs that these two Universities already offer then this ‘new’ school will have a lot of potential. It could mean many good things for South Jersey. However, I hope Christie has really considered all the decisions involved with the merger before making a bold statement like this. First, as far as changing the name from Rutgers-Camden to Rowan, it is a shame for us RU-C. I go to Rutgers-Camden and will graduate with a Rutgers-Camden degree this May ’12. The truth is that Rutgers is located in New Brunswick, NJ. As far as the University goes, much of its accreditation has came from there, so I can understand the name change. The next problem is that Rowan will be inheriting a campus located in good ole’ Camden. Us students know there are certain directions you can’t travel too far, and we receive mugging or gunshot emails at an uncomfortable rate. His next problem is configuring the bachelors and masters programs that will be offered and choosing which professors, from which university, will be teaching them. Included in this will be how much they will be paid. Because Rutgers is a research institution I am almost positive that their professors are paid more than Rowans. Obviously, a decrease in pay to Rutgers professors will make them unhappy. Aside from this, there are tons of logistics and IT info and paperwork and tuition info and plenty of other factors that need consideration. However, possibly the most important factor in getting this whole operation to work will be the cooperation of the staffing departments at both schools. Considering all this work, I just don’t see this merger actually happening. If it does, it is because they have some serious financial backing. If it does, I hope that there is room for all of the teachers at both schools because I have personally been taught by some extremely bright professors at Rutgers Camden.

  • John Oberdiek

    The Advisory Committee’s proposal asserts and predicts a great deal, but provides no hard data to support them. That alone should make it impossible for Rutgers’s Board of Governors and Board of Trustees to vote in favor of the recommendation; doing so would likely violate those Boards’s fiduciary duties.

    Narrowing the focus a bit, if Rutgers were to disavow the School of Law in Camden, it would be bad both for the law school and for Rutgers as a whole. And, importantly, it would also fail Rowan. The School of Law is able to recruit the terrific faculty and students it has because of the Rutgers name and affiliation — Rutgers has national and indeed global standing as a research university. Rowan does not and won’t for years and years, or possibly ever. What this means, essentially and crucially, is that Rowan would not be getting the high-quality law school that Rutgers would be losing. And this returns to the Rutgers Boards’s fiduciary responsibilities: between all the national and international fellowships the law faculty wins, the major books published, and the clinical and pro bono work it accomplishes, the School of Law in Camden adds value to Rutgers as a whole. Losing Camden law schooll would be a real blow to Rutgers University.

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