HAMILTON – Gov. Chris Christie said today he is not willing to accept anything short of the plan for Rowan University to absorb Rutgers University-Camden, saying it will help create a major research university in South Jersey and serve as the region’s economic engine.
“They’re going to merge,” Christie said bluntly at a press conference. “That’s what’s best for higher education…I’m not intending to compromise.”
He also dismissed the critics of the plan, calling them “a small group of people” who are very vocal about their opposition.
“Sometimes progress means change, and change makes some people uncomfortable.”
Rutgers-Camden students and faculty have opposed the plan, largely because it will mean a loss of identity in the southern part of the state for New Jersey’s largest university.
He said much of the opposition is more the result of emotion than actual facts.
He added that it would be in the best interests of the Rutgers University Board of Governors to approve the plan, since its New Brunswick campus stands to gain other schools.
Under the plan, schools currently under the administration of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey would become part of Rutgers University. The schools that would fall under the Rutgers umbrella include the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the School of Public Health and the Cancer Institute.
At an Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing two weeks ago, UMDNJ interim President Denise Rodgers confirmed that the goal is to transfer the three schools in central New Jersey to Rutgers University by July 1.
At a joint legislative hearing Monday at Rowan University, many critics of the plan testified that the Rowan/Rutgers-Camden merger would end up hurting South Jersey because there would be an exodus of top faculty and research dollars, not an influx as plan supporters claim.