Hearings sought on higher ed

Reorganization plan faces review
Jim Walsh, Staff Writer
TRENTON — The head of the state Senate’s Higher Education Committee on Thursday said she wants to hold hearings on a proposed reorganization of higher-education institutions across the state.

01.24.12 Glassboro; New Campus buildings at Rowan University, including the new Barnes and Noble Book Store. / Al Schell/Courier-Post
01.24.12 Glassboro; New Campus buildings at Rowan University, including the new Barnes and Noble Book Store. / Al Schell/Courier-Post

Sen. Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson, said hearings are needed for “a complete understanding of the statewide benefits and implications” of the plan, which was unveiled by Gov. Chris Christie one day earlier.

Among other changes, Christie’s plan calls for Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University to be “fully integrated” in South Jersey. The resulting school would take Rowan’s name, according to Christie’s plan.

State Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, said any combination of the South Jersey schools should be “an equal joining of these institutions, not a folding of one into the other.”

Norcross also said the name of the surviving school “must be respectful of both distinguished universities” and its governing body “should reflect the interests and diversity of both communities.”

His brother, Cooper University Hospital George E. Norcross III, on Wednesday praised the proposed development of a research university in South Jersey, saying that would “transform education” and “ignite the economy.” The combined school would include the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, now under way in Camden.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd on Thursday said she is still reviewing the proposal, but that, “upon first look,” it could promote growth in the city’s university district and other areas, and that it could bolster the city’s position as a center for graduate studies in law, business and medicine.

In her statement, Cunningham focused on the plan’s potential impact on University Hospital in Newark. “It is imperative that we approach these changes with caution,” she said, expressing concern over the long-term impact on patients and medical students at the Newark institution.

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