By James Osborne. Inquirer Staff Writer.

Rutgers’ two boards declared Wednesday that the university’s governing structure would remain intact, signaling to Gov. Christie and legislative leaders that their plans to remake the state’s public universities could face significant hurdles ahead.

A set of “principles” approved by the boards of trustees and governors expressed willingness to expand and give greater autonomy to both the university’s Newark and Camden campuses, work more closely with Rowan University in Glassboro, and have Rutgers take over parts of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey — if the state provides the money to do so. But they affirmed that they would not open up the subject of giving up control of any of the university’s three campuses.

The meeting of the boards came just two days after Democratic leaders in the state Senate introduced legislation that would restructure how Rutgers is governed. It would give control of the university’s Camden campus to an independent board and create a joint board to manage Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University — with political appointees holding the majority on both bodies. Identical legislation was introduced in the Assembly Wednesday.

After the vote, the two Rutgers boards expressed willingness to open negotiations with legislators toward what board members described as an opportunity to move the university forward.

“Both the legislation and the principles are open to some degree of interpretation, and I think that will be the basis for discussion,” said Jerry Harvey, vice chairman of the Rutgers Board of Governors.


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