In rare joint meeting, actions by governors and trustees expected to slow down restructuring bill

By Tara Nurin

After months of relative silence, the Rutgers University Boards of Governors and Trustees have finally taken a joint position on the proposed restructuring of the state’s higher education system and overwhelming rejected the portions of the deal that would sever Rutgers-Camden from Rutgers. The boards, however, would be willing to take over the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJ) and said it would make changes that will provide more autonomy to both the Camden and Newark campuses.

Rutgers students protest plan.
Credit: Samantha Besso/Rutgers photo student File photo: Rutgers students protest plan.
In a rare joint meeting held in New Brunswick yesterday, governors and trustees also approved the creation of a committee comprised of members of both boards to work with the Legislature to enact a law that would restructure higher education in New Jersey.

In a voice vote, the boards overwhelmingly voted to endorse a set of principles that will provide the basis for negotiations between the committee and Legislature. However, the vote is expected to derail or prolong the passage of the Legislation introduced into the Senate on Monday by Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and senators Donald Norcross (D-Camden) and Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) that closely resembles the original proposal for restructuring promoted by Gov. Chris Christie and is quite different from the principles that the board affirmed yesterday. But despite trustees’ victory, they worry about the political realities their principles will face as it travels down the corridors of government.

“I’m worried about negotiations because they work on the premise that if you negotiate for common ground, everybody has to give up something,” said trustee Abram Suydam. “Today we approved principles. How much of those principles will be expected by the other side that we will give up in order to have them play nice?”


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