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Rutgers Law Schools Plan to Complete Merger by 2015
“We don’t exactly know what’ll happen, but what we would hope is next year [the American Bar Association] would let us recruit as one,” Rutgers-Camden’s law dean Rayman Solomon said. “Because we were far enough along in the process that they could see that this was happening.”
Leaders at the law schools hope that a single school will create a higher profile due to its timing. The schools will merge their law schools at the same time the athletic department joins the Big Ten Conference.
“Those are major public research universities that have a single flagship law school. And that’s what Rutgers would now have. . . . It wouldn’t divide its resources between two separate ones,” said vice dean John Oberdiek. Oberdiek will work as the acting dean of the Camden law school when this semester concludes.
The law school in Newark has a strong foothold in the legal market of New York, while the Camden school has a foothold in the legal market in Philadelphia.
“You’d be hard-pressed,” he said, “to find another school in the country that will have that kind of reach.”
The earliest the newly combined school could admit students is in the fall of 2015 because law schools admit students just once per year.
“We want to do this right. . . . There’s no artificial time pressure on us to do this by X time or something happens,” said Ronald K. Chen. Chen is the acting dean of the Newark law school. “It’s still on track. I’m not worried about it at all.”
Even though the schools have yet to merge officially, the chancellor of Rutgers Camden, Wendell Pritchett, said, “They’re doing the curriculum, they’re teaching classes together, they’re figuring out how to reconcile student journals. They’re doing all of the stuff that is actually part of the merger.”
By the spring of 2015, the two schools hope to build an “immersive learning classroom” at each campus to close the 90-mile gap. Each school will have a videoconferencing screen.
Robert L. Barchi, the president of Rutgers, said, “I see a time not too far down the line when students can be on either campus taking the same courses by synchronous education, and we don’t need duplicate faculty in both places. We can have specialty faculty that are growing in one area in one location vs. the other, so the physical location becomes less and less important.”Rutgers Law Schools Plan to Complete Merger by 2015 by Jim Vassallo