Medical school, move to Big Ten expected to transform Rutgers

By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer. The Record.

Rutgers on Monday acquired a respected medical school and an entrée into what is arguably the country’s premiere athletic conference — developments that position the state university to leap to a new level of recognition and quality.
Rutgers President Robert Barachi speaking during a press conference following the merger vote.

The university’s governing boards on Monday unanimously approved a massive merger plan that gives Rutgers coveted medical and dental schools and catapults it into the top tier of research universities. At the same time, word came that the university will accept an invitation to join the high-profile Big Ten Athletic Conference, which would bring opponents like Michigan and Ohio State, more national exposure and lucrative television contracts.

“It’s huge, a great day for Rutgers,” said state Sen. Ray Lesniak, an alumnus who for years has pushed for the medical schools merger. “These two things together — the addition of the medical school and entering into the [Big Ten] Athletic Conference — will put us in a word-class neighborhood.”

News of Rutgers’ entrance into the Big Ten, which is expected to be officially announced Tuesday, somewhat eclipsed the long-awaited votes by its boards of governors and trustees that represented the last procedural hurdle for the university to absorb most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.