EDUCATION

Rutgers Board Member Says Christie is Right to Leave Out ‘Jersey Comeback’ in Keynote Speech

As we get closer to the Republican National Convention which is set to begin in Tampa on Monday, Christie watchers are speculating on why the governor announced he wouldn’t be including his much used “Jersey Comeback” reference in his upcoming keynote speech on Tuesday.

According to Gordon MacInnes, President of the New Jersey Policy Perspective, a New Jersey comeback is a hard sell without actual numbers to support the claim.

“We have the fourth highest unemployment rate, we have the fourth lowest rate of economic activity, we have the third lowest credit rating,” pointed out MacInnes. “So it’s really hard when there are no facts that confirm your story. So I think it makes sense that the governor would back off, particularly in the searchlight he’ll be under at the convention.”

The governor signed landmark legislation yesterday which will begin an overhaul of the state’s university system. As reported by NJ Today, the legislation accomplishes the following:

  • Most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry (UMDNJ), which includes the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, will be handed over to Rutgers.
  • UMDNJ’s osteopathic medical school will be taken over by Rowan.
  • And Rutgers will keep its name across its three campuses.

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MacInnes, who sits on the Rutgers University’s Board of Governors, said he supports the final legislation which he says looks very different from the one initially proposed in January.

“You know how they talk about two things you don’t want to see happen — you don’t want to see sausage or law made. Well this is sausage that ended up tasting pretty good after it was made,” said MacInnes.

In the final version, MacInnes said Rutgers will benefit greatly because the merger of the two medical schools improves the school’s ranking, which is currently as low as fifty-five, on the list of research universities when it comes to federal grants received.

“Just the merger itself, the two medical schools, will move us into the twenty-fifth area,” MacInnes said.

In November, a $750 million bond initiative will appear as a referendum for New Jersey voters. Lawmakers are seeking voter approval to upgrade the state’s public and private colleges and universities. If approved, it would be the largest issue in New Jersey history. But MacInnes said the real question should be whether the state can afford not to go ahead with the bond initiative, saying New Jersey has neglected to invest in higher education for far too long.

“This is just a small catch up of what we need to do. There are billions of dollars in a backlog of maintenance of facilities that were built 20 years, 30 years ago, where there needs to be innovations, classroom facilities that are out of date, research facilities that are not keeping up. So there’s just an awful lot to do.”

He said he hopes the governor and the Democratic leadership exhibit the same kind of enthusiasm displayed at yesterday’s bill signing to advance the bond issue.”