Higher education reorganization proposed by Democratic senators

Senate President Steve Sweeney, along with state Sens. Donald Norcross and Joe Vitale today proposed a sweeping plan for the

Senate President Steve Sweeney, along with state Sens. Donald Norcross and Joe Vitale today proposed a sweeping plan for the reorganization of higher education in the state of New Jersey.

The plan calls for Rutgers-Camden to be granted autonomy and operate under its own board of governors, a key sticking point to the plan proposed by the administration earlier this year.

“Higher education is a critical element in moving New Jersey’s economy to a new level while also maintaining and drawing the best and brightest minds to our state. We can develop premiere, world-class institutions of higher education and research right here. We simply need the will and the ability to work with one another to get it done,” said Sweeney, (D–3), West Deptford.

The plan was lauded by the governor, who is still pushing for a June 30 deadline for a resolution to the proposed restructuring.

“Governor Christie applauds Senate President Sweeney’s leadership to move the university reorganization forward for the benefit of all of New Jersey,” said spokesman Michael Drewniak. “This is a critical and positive step, and the Governor looks forward to working together to achieve this reorganization by June 30.”

Details of the proposal are as follows:

 The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and all its Newark and New Brunswick-based programs and assets – absent University Hospital – and debt will be fully absorbed by Rutgers University.

 A new Rutgers-Newark Board of Governors will be created, with the authority to propose capital projects, an annual budget, new academic programs and degree requirements, and candidates for tenure and promotion for the Newark Campus to the Rutgers University Board of Governors, among other things.

 The Rutgers University Board of Governors will be expanded to 15 members (from its current 11) to more effectively oversee the expanded University and its assets. It will include the chair of the new Rutgers-Newark Board of Governors, two members who reside in a North Jersey county.

 University Hospital will remain the primary teaching hospital, but will be treated and accounted for as a separate entity and will receive its own direct state appropriations. A financial firewall will be established such that Rutgers will not be responsible for the hospital’s outstanding debt.

 A new, independent board will be established to govern University Hospital, to include representation from Rutgers, among others. The hospital will partner with the healthcare system of its choice to assist in its day-to-day management and operations.

 Rutgers-Newark and UMDNJ employees’ union protections will be preserved.

 Rutgers-Camden will be granted autonomy and will operate under a new 7-member Rutgers-Camden Board of Trustees, to include four gubernatorial appointees who must be residents of a South Jersey county.

 State appropriations will be made directly to Rutgers-Camden, and tuition paid by Rutgers-Camden students will be managed entirely by the Rutgers-Camden administration. Rutgers-Camden’s board will have authority over its allocation of state appropriations, setting of tuition and fees, and hiring and promotion of faculty.

 Rowan University will be designated as a research institution.

 A joint Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Governing Board will be established, including two members from both the Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University boards of trustees, and three public members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The power and authority of the new joint board will include, among other things:

a. Approval of decisions of the Rowan University Board of Trustees and Rutgers-Camden Board of Trustees;

b. Entering into shared development of curriculum, programs, and dual degrees;

c. Joint appointment of faculty to Rowan University and Rutgers-Camden;

d. Shared resources/services for housing, student affairs, and security;

e. Shared curricular oversight over joint programs;

f. Shared capital investment and bonding authority in health science facilities;

g. Shared operation and governance of science and health science facilities;

h. Designated state allocation to advance partnerships and dual degrees.

 There will be no change in status of Rutgers-Camden or Rowan employees’ collective bargaining units.

Higher education reorganization proposed by Democratic senators