Since Gov. Christie signed a bill last August to restructure the state’s university system to merge Rutgers, UMDNJ and Rowan, talk has centered on whether the merger is moving ahead according to schedule. As far as Rowan University is concerned, the school’s president Dr. Ali Houshmand told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he doesn’t see any reason why there would be a delay in any shape or form.
Houshmand said the integration of two large organizations with different cultures involves complex bureaucratic systems issues that involve students and faculty.
“You want to make sure that you get everything right so that come July 1, students continue to be served, the faculty and staff continue to be paid, mistakes are not made,” said Houshmand. “But the dedication on the part of UMDNJ leadership and staff, Rutgers University leadership and staff, as well as Rowan University leadership and staff, it’s clearly here and we are really working tirelessly, collaboratively.”
According to Houshmand, financing the merger will cost Rowan roughly $10 – 12 million. It’s an expense that Rowan has planned for in advance, said Houshmand.
“We have made sure that within our existing budget we have enough cushion to take care of this thing,” he said. “Whether we can do it or not we don’t know. Obviously if we don’t, we’re going to ask the state to help us.”
But whatever happens, Houshmand promised not to raise tuition to cover merger costs.
He said emphatically, “As far as Rowan is concerned, we will not increase the tuition, the fees, the room and board beyond the current rate of inflation which is 2.1 percent. That is my guarantee to you.”
The new designation of Rowan as a research institution will create tremendous opportunities not only for the university but for the entire state, said Houshmand.
“For us to be able to develop graduate programs that are desperately needed especially in the area of life sciences to conduct research that I believe that the state of New Jersey does not do enough relative to other institutions,” Houshmand said. “The greatest gain is going to be for the public because now we have another comprehensive research institution that is going to have the kind of degree program for which high school graduates are leaving the state to seek elsewhere. Hopefully, they will stay here in this state, get their degrees here, and stay here and become productive taxpayers in the future.”