Rutgers Board Rejects Merger with Rowan

On the Rutgers campus in Camden, there is little doubt where people stand on the proposed merger with down-state rival Rowan.

The main point — they chose to go to Rutgers and want to graduate as Scarlet Knights.

“I like Rutgers in Camden and I chose to go to Rutgers instead of Rowan for a reason. I’m in the nursing program. I picked Rutgers because it has a very solid name and foundation behind it,” said Rutgers student Juliann Christinzie.

The Rutgers Board of Trustees overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that rejected the merger saying it is inconsistent with the mission of the university.

Abram Suydam, who graduated from Rutgers in 1952, was among the trustees voting no.

“We as a board of trustees feel that our responsibility is to maintain the integrity of our campuses in Newark, New Brunswick, Piscataway and Camden and they are an integral part of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey,” he said. “And we do not want any part of it taken over by another university.”

The complicated merger plan involves a combination of Rutgers, Rowan and the Central Jersey campuses of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. The board resolution for now only rejected the Camden merger.

An education task force and the governor are supporting a merger, they say, in an effort to create a statewide, premier school.

Sen. Robert Menendez is a Rutgers Law graduate and sees merits to both arguments. “I think that it’s desirable to have a world class research institution in southern New Jersey. But I also think the Rutgers’ brand, as somebody who went to Rutgers Law School, is very important,” he said.

A lot of people get a say in what happens here. Rutgers is managed by two boards — the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees. The trustees’ vote last night is key because officials say they must approve any sale or transfer of the university’s assets and property.

Rowan has largely kept quiet — except to say that the school will support whatever decision is eventually reached.

Both Rowan and Rutgers officials stress that the schools have a positive working relationship and that there are opportunities to work closer together.

Reporting from the Rutgers campus in Camden, Andrew Schmertz files this report.