Rutgers, RWJ merger announced

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie today announced a merger between Rutgers and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center as part of the ongoing reorganization of higher education in the state.

Christie said the consolidation of RWJ Medical Center and the Cancer Institute under the Rutgers umbrella will ensure certainty to a life sciences education system that is in desperate need of stability.

In addition, he said that the University of Medicine and Dentistry schools have not met their full potential as he referenced the fact that much of the past decade has been spent involved with UMDNJ.

That is a reference to the fact that while Christie was a federal prosecutor, UMDNJ was the target of a Medicare fraud probe years ago.

The recommendations of the higher education committee to merge the schools with Rutgers also should help Rutgers as it seeds a new president, Christie said.

“We need to move Rutgers from good to great,” Christie said. “We will get a great leader there, move in a new direction.”

In addition, he said they will move immediately to implement recommendations in the committee report. Since the Legislature could possibly block a reorganization, he said they have reached out to state lawmakers to bring them on board as well.

He said he could offer an estimate of how many jobs might be lost through such a merger.

He said the changes were necessary to ensure that life sciences and biotech higher education in the state, “Has a secure, bright and collaborative future. We want to make every dollar count.’’

Rutgers, RWJ merger announced