Rutgers-Camden, Rowan may marry, but they should keep their names

Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Columnist

Gov. Christie’s proposal to “merge” Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University under the Rowan name looks less like a collegial partnership and more like a hostile takeover. Or perhaps a shotgun wedding.

Whatever you call it, the plan – part of an effort to reorganize, if not revolutionize, higher education statewide – feels like a foregone conclusion.

It arrived last week, floating on promises of more money, more jobs, more . . . more. And like so many decisions with enormous consequences for Camden, it appears to have been made with little input from people who live or work there.

Is it possible Camden and South Jersey would be better served by linking Rutgers and Rowan in a way that retains their identities? Could the schools gain academic and economic clout in a merger that more resembled a collaboration?

A “consortium,” such as that proposed by the Rutgers-Camden faculty, could combine some programs at the universities, leveraging strengths but maintaining separate operations.