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Sen. Sweeney’s Bill for Rutgers’ Board Amended

6-12-14

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Rutgers is one of just three universities with two boards—a Board of Governors and Board of Trustees.

Senate President Sweeney has been fast-tracking a bill that would expand the Board of Governors.

Today it was amended on the Senate floor and the amended version was approved in an Assembly Committee.

Sweeney’s original bill called for four new members of the Board of Governors, two appointed by the governor, and one each by the Senate President and Assembly Speaker.

That would take the board of governors from 15 members to 19

The amended version still adds four new members, all appointed by the governor, but two must be sitting members of the board of trustees and two must have medical or health science backgrounds.

The 59-member Board of Trustees currently has seven of the 15 Board of Governors seats.

Adding two more, proponents say, will preserve the traditional one-seat advantage of political appointees, 10 to nine.

Still, the leadership of the two Rutgers boards objected to the bill.

“The bill serves no public purpose. Indeed there’s no rationale for it. The Legislature just two years ago increased the size of the Board of Governors to 15 from 11 members,” said Cantor.

“I continue to believe the bill addresses a problem that doesn’t exist.” said Harvey.

Board of Governors chairman Gerald Harvey called the amendments a step in the right direction but offered very tentative support.

“While on a first read of these amendments I view then as proactive. I must tell you that as amended this bill will be affirmatively opposed by a majority of the trustees and a number of members of the Board of Governors,” said Harvey

That came as a surprise to Sweeney.

“The amendments we received form Harvey, he called us. We did not call him. He said if you amend this bill in this fashion he would publicly support it. He just sort of came out against it. Here’s the problem. You shouldn’t tell somebody one thing and tell other people differently,” said Sweeney.

Most Democrats support the change in governance.

“Even their own report says they need to restructure their governance at the school,” said Sweeney.

Most Republicans agree with their Senate Minority Leader that the effort is unwise and unconstitutional.

“By changing the balance of the political appointees, you don’t always get what’s best for the institution,” said Kean.

The bill as amended needs both full Senate and Assembly approval.