TRENTON – A coalition of faculty, alumni, and staff opposed to the Rutgers University-Camden takeover by Rowan University cheered the news this week that a federal lawmaker also wants questions answered before it becomes a done deal.
A group of about 13 Rutgers personnel issued a release calling the governor’s proposal to merge the two schools poorly researched, and said a plan of this scale demands the kind of intense scrutiny proposed by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-NJ).
Lautenberg earlier had sent a letter to the U.S. Dept. of Education asking it to get involved in the proposed higher education reorganization.
“I am hopeful that the more scrutiny that comes this way, the more likely people are to say this is not a good idea,’’ said Professor Adam Scales, one of the signers of the release.
Lautenberg’s call for federal involvement touched off a political firestorm, with Gov. Chris Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney and others who favor the reorganization attacking Lautenberg, saying he is standing in the way of something that will greatly benefit South Jersey.
But in their release today, Rutgers faculty and others said, “Like Senator Lautenberg, we are determined to make sure that such important issues are not decided in haste without serious public deliberation and input.
“So far, proponents of the merger have sought to avoid public scrutiny for reasons we do not fully understand.”
A public hearing into the takeover was held recently on the campus of Rowan in Glassboro, a daylong affair featuring testimony from dozens of witnesses.
But there are aspects to the proposal that trouble the opponents who authored today’s salvo.
“Specifically, proponents have failed to explain how eliminating Rutgers from South Jersey will improve higher education in South Jersey. They have carefully avoided any serious assessment, discussion or even acknowledgement of the financial impact of this radical prescription.
“Equally troubling is the Governor’s insistence that Rutgers must abandon Camden in exchange for a medical school in the northern part of the state. If this sort of quid pro quo is brazenly acknowledged, we wonder what other political or financial deals motivate this proposal to force a hostile takeover of Rutgers-Camden.”
They said that Rutgers can only be strong if all of its campuses are funded and treated equitably.