Higher Ed Committee Chair Wants to ‘Put the Brakes’ on Rutgers-Rowan Merger

The proposal to merge Rutgers Camden and Rowan University has been controversial with many from Rutgers University opposing the idea. If implemented, Rutgers Camden would be part of Rowan University and lose its current name. Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D), vice-chair of the Higher Education Committee, spoke with NJToday Managing Editor Mike Schneider about the proposed merger and what members of the Legislature are looking into.

Giblin said legislators are in the process of evaluating Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to see what makes the best sense for the two universities and their students. There was an initial hearing at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) recently and another is scheduled at Rowan University. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions,” he said.

One of the concerns is the name recognition of Rutgers which would be lost for students attending the Camden campus. Another issue is the fate of UMDNJ, which Giblin said particularly concerns residents of northern New Jersey.

“I’d like to put the brakes on it a little bit because it really has to be looked at,” Giblin said. “All facets have to be looked at and I don’t think sincerely that we have enough information to make an intelligent decision on this issue.”

During a hearing at Montclair State University this week, Dr. Susan Cole, the university’s president, pointed out that the state doesn’t contribute enough money to state institutions of higher learning to keep New Jersey’s best and brightest students. Giblin said he agreed that the legislators have “to stop the talking and provide some action in terms of facilities,” which he says hasn’t been addressed in more than 20 years.

The cost could be $1 billion, Giblin said, but added that it would likely be done in increments and if the various parties involved explained the message to voters, it could be accomplished.