Rowan has released its “roadmap” for the takeover of Rutgers-Camden.  In making the announcement today, Rowan acting president Ali Houshmand complained about the tone of public discussion. “A lot of people have been engaged in throwing a lot of mud at Rowan, insulting this institution, and it’s hurtful,” he said today on KYW radio. So let’s see what Rowan, which now offers itself as the victim, offers in the way of a partnership, without any input whatsoever from Rutgers-Camden.

First, the report presumes that the governor will put the takeover into effect by executive order, an approach he did not rule out in remarks reported earlier this week.  Not incidentally, Rowan expects the governor to reclassify it as a research university, which would remove it from its current category along with other state colleges (which prohibit the introduction of Ph.D. programs, among other things).  Of course, Rowan’s designation by outside evaluators would remain the same, as a masters comprehensive. Since Rowan administrators met in the governor’s office last Friday, an interesting question is whether they cleared the document with his staff in advance, including the anticipated use of executive reorganization.   

 Rowan, signals its intent to sever from Rutgers all endowments and grants designated for Rutgers-Camden, surely a sticky point for the central administration in New Brunswick, and to seek appropriations to replace lost resources, including IT support.  Though the report supports expanding the library to meet the needs of additional students, it fails to account for the loss of an accredited research library and provides no cost estimates for any additional library services.  

Students entering the Camden campus after this year would follow the Rutgers curriculum for the next several years, but would receive a Rowan degree, certainly a first in the history of higher education. Students entering Rowan after a common curriculum is established will get a Rowan degree, whatever campus they attend.   

 Most notably, the report omits the status of the Camden-based faculty. No reference is made to their tenure or their standing with Rowan, except obliquely through a promise to “enhance and integrate existing structures, policies, and resources (e.g., information resources, individuals with specific expertise, student services, infrastructure, personnel, academic standards) (bold added). No guidelines are laid out for conditions under which teaching will take place, namely teaching loads, conditions and standards for promotion and tenure, or recruitment.

Under the Rowan proposal, budgeting would be centralized. There is no designation as to allocation of resources by campus, by formula or otherwise.  Cooper President John

Over "the state" of South Jersey, Rowan shall rule

Sheridan claims that Rutgers currently nets $50 million dollars from Camden tuition and Senate President Steve Sweeney puts the outflow at $61 million. That profit, if it continues with the merger, would go to Glassboro for distribution by the central administration located there. One can guess how much of that would go to Cooper Medical School.

The board of trustees for the combined campuses would be expanded by 10 seats, to 25, assuring the dominance of the current board.  There is no indication of whom and by what criteria the trustees would be chosen.  There is no assurance either that a politically-motivated takeover would avoid the kind of patronage pit that UMDNJ became when its board was politicized.  

The proposal calls for an increase in undergraduate students over five years of 5,000 students, presumably to address the problem cited endlessly by proponents of the merger of the net loss from the whole state of 30,000 students a year.  Even more ambitiously, the report calls for an increase in graduate students of 16% a year, to a level of 5000 students.  Where those students will come from, what financial support they will receive, or what programs will be targeted for growth or development is not stated.  The report states only broadly, “The needs and requirements of faculty, anticipated future degree programs, funding sources, and enrollment management shall be investigated and appropriately planned for.”

True to Rowan’s earlier message to its own faculty, the report calls for committees of faculty from both institutions to integrate the curriculum over the next several years.  At this point, Rowan faculty will be as much in the dark as the Rutgers faculty as to what would be expected of them in the new institution. What is certain, according to the Rowan report, is that current Rowan employees who have it will no longer be given  civil service protection and that bargaining will be local, not with the state.


  • Will the Governor endorse this plan? According to this plan, what will happen with the Rutgers-Camden faculty and staff? Who will be on the new board appointed by Chrisitie? How much did Mad King George Norcross III have to do with this? How much control will Norcross & Friends have over the merged university? Where are the facts? Did Sol Barer help with the Rowan report, too, as it seems like there are even more unanswered questions now than ever before.

  • Howard,
    You are too kind to this “plan”. But you bring to the foreground many important points that are implicit in the document, like the complete vulnerability of this new institution to political patronage and the looting of its assets.

  • The line, “”The needs and requirements of faculty, anticipated degree programs, funding sources, and enrollment management shall be investigated and appropriately planned for” is one of the most troubling to me in the entire “roadmap” It’s one of two bullet points that comprise the entire “Academic Affairs” section. This sounds like it would be a pretty important part of a merger of two universities designed to create one university and attract more students.

    But it’s just two bullet points, the one mentioned above and one beginning, “Detailed steps for the creation and implementation shall be undertaken…” but no steps of any degree of detail are provided.

    So Rowan’s plan for academics is to look into it and make a plan. Doesn’t it seem like there would be some academic ideas on the table BEFORE the putting forward a plan for higher education? If this is to create a major university, shouldn’t academics be driving the whole thing!? If they haven’t investigated the academic needs and requirements, why is this even being suggested?

  • Terrific comments. Rutgers is now at the very top rank of Carnegie research institutions, among the top 108 in the country:{%22basic2005_ids%22%3A%2215%22}&start_page=standard.php&backurl=standard.php&limit=0,50

    The Rowan report claims it will also become a research institution. Like saying so makes it true.

    We are told twice in one report today that the Rowan statement is short on details:

    But you report what may be the central detail: $50M in profit from Rutgers tuitions will become available to fund …. Cooper Medical School. Fancy that.

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