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"If the board of governors doesn't support this, it's in trouble. I don't know how you supersede...

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"If the board of governors doesn't support this, it's in trouble. I don't know how you supersede the board of governors," said State Sen. Robert Singer (R., Ocean), who sits on the Senate Higher Education Committee and supports the governor's proposal. "It's one week away. We have to see." ... "If we don't get the whole thing, maybe do the Rutgers-UMDNJ thing now and we have to wait on Rowan and Rutgers," he said. "It's important to get this moving the right way. Half a pie is better than no pie."

The Rutgers boards are set to vote on a statement of principles opposing any union between Rutgers-Camden and Rowan. All eyes ultimately fall on the Board of Governors, as the Board of Trustees are certain to oppose the so-called compromise. It's doubtful the BoG would support it though, as they have a fiduciary to do what is in the best interest of the university, and the proposals to have Newark and Camden politicians gut Rutgers of assets while still having rights to the university's name are too much of a price to pay. Now the question becomes as to whether the original proposal will be revived, which probably was worth the trade. Obviously you'd prefer for UMDNJ-NB to just be returned to Rutgers, but we cannot get out of this situation without a medical school. It is absolutely vital for the future of Rutgers. Sen. Singer does deserve a lot of credit for being responsible and respecting the rule of law, as opposed to Sen. Sweeney, who has a callous disregard for the Rutgers Act of 1956. The second bit of comments from Singer are pretty good, a best of all worlds scenario. As the merger in New Brunswick is absolutely vital to the future of New Jersey's economy, New Jersey legislators ultimately can't be dumb enough to cut off their noses to spite their faces, could they? Not approving the main merger would cost the state millions in research funds. At the end of the day, they have to approve that no matter what, as failing to do that would represent a dereliction of duty and responsibility to the taxpayers of New Jersey.

"Thanks to the Rutgers Act of 1956, our two governing boards are free from the influence peddling...

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"Thanks to the Rutgers Act of 1956, our two governing boards are free from the influence peddling and secret back-room deal-making that politicians in both the north and south are rushing to bring to both Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden," said Shankman. "When I have to consider who I have more confidence in: independent Rutgers boards who uphold a 246-year tradition of nonpartisan excellence or politicians seeking to control as much as they can whenever and wherever they can, to me the choice of who to trust is very clear."

Quotes don't really get much better than that. The fact that corrupt Newark politicians are railing about "wasteful" spending in a plot to give them a giant patronage slush fund to reward cronies with really takes the cake. Investment in Rutgers-New Brunswick has been cut to the bone because of budget cuts that these politicians largely voted for, and they still have to gall to spout these blatant lies. The fiction about only 55% of tuition being spend on satellite campuses owes a great deal to the central administration fees that would largely increase if the campuses were governed centrally. The rest, of course, owes to the fact that no one would value an education from the Newark or Camden campuses if they were not associated with Rutgers-New Brunswick, so they fairly must pay what is essentially a licensing fee for the privilege of association. The independence of the Rutgers Governing Board is not a bug, it's a feature.

The trustees said many of their colleagues wanted to emphasize their opposition to the...

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The trustees said many of their colleagues wanted to emphasize their opposition to the Christie/Norcross plan after The Star-Ledger published details of a so-called "compromise" worked out behind closed doors. The details "infuriated" the trustees, said one member of the board, because they played no part in what appeared to be a done deal. In a confidential email, one trustee wrote of the plan, ``Not just ‘no,’ but ‘HELL NO!’"

This is from Bob Braun in the Ledger. Rutgers is prepared to offer increased autonomy to the Newark and Camden campuses, but is not willing to let political hacks in Newark and Camden take over those campuses and raid their treasuries. Simply put, it is not acceptable for a campus to bear the Rutgers name but not be under the direct and sole authority of the Rutgers Board of Governors. Update: as you would expect, Rutgers sources insist they have no interest in having George Norcross run the Camden campus by fiat.

Time to go nuclear against Stephen Sweeney

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New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who holds nothing resembling a college or university degree, now has it in mind that the state of New Jersey should circumvent and gut the Rutgers Act of 1956. This is no less than an open declaration of warfare by Sweeney and his puppet master George Norcross against Rutgers, and therefore, Rutgers should respond in kind. The most disgusting part? Middlesex County legislator Joe Vitale, who should be screaming at the top of his lungs defending Rutgers, is supposedly abetting Sweeney and Norcross in their dirty dealings. As that Ledger article points out, patronage-minded politicians in Newark and Camden are treating this merger proposal as an opportunity to loot the state university of its prestige and treasure, and this cannot be allowed. Both are still stuck in the moronic, simplistic view of this issue as a zero sum game of local politics, rather than the correct view of an opportunity to strengthen the state university of New Jersey while enhancing the state's life sciences industry. Rutgers should not stand for it, New Jersey voters should not stand for it, and New Jersey economic heavyweights such as Johnson & Johnson and Merck should not stand for it either. We stand at the precipice of an opportunity to do an enormous, practically unbound level of good for the state economy by returning the illegally, immorally stolen Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine to its rightful owner in Rutgers University. Yet, all these clowns care about is greasing their palms and looking out for number one. It's downright pathetic. There is little wonder why New Jersey's higher education is suffering. With politicians like these, how could it not? That's why New Jerseyans need to stand against this horrific attempt to broach the sacred Rutgers Act of 1956, and demand that Governor Christie stand up to George Norcross, do what's right, and only move forward with the New Brunswick portions of the merger while tabling every other proposal. Update: let's be clear on this - Newark's politicians are just as craven, reprehensible, and opportunistic as Camden's. I guess it's a point of pride that we don't stand for that kind of garbage in Central Jersey, but this is just absurd. This isn't about regional parochialism. It's about the general welfare of the entire state. Someone has to step up and be an advocate for all of New Jersey against these thieves and criminals. Frankly, Gov. Christie is abdicating his role and responsibility if he does not take a stand against these demands. Update2: some more on Newark's excessive, outrageous demands.

But after more than four months of discussion among New Jersey’s political leaders and academics,...

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But after more than four months of discussion among New Jersey’s political leaders and academics, significant opposition continues. While talks have progressed on a compromise aimed at preserving the Camden campus’ connection to the Rutgers system, there remains disagreement over the makeup and role of an independent board overseeing that campus and Rowan and what role Rutgers’ governing bodies would play, according to persons close to the talks. A meeting of Rutgers’ board of trustees has been scheduled for Thursday in New Brunswick to discuss the proposal. Adam Scales, a Rutgers-Camden law professor who has led faculty opposition to the merger, said many on campus were opposed to giving a discussed Rutgers-Rowan joint board control over the Camden school’s finances. "A managing board focused on joint collaboration, 99 percent of the faculty wouldn’t have a problem with that," Scales said. "But anything that looks like a wide-ranging board, that would merit very widespread rejection here at Rutgers."

It doesn't sound as there is much room for compromise, nor should there be. Just because RU-Camden's administration is spineless, and all too quick to embrace George Norcross just as soon as he promised not to merge their campus with Camden, Rutgers-Camden faculty know what's up. They know that any sort of separation from Rutgers would mean the eventual looting of the school treasury by Norcross to bail out for his bankrupt, debt-ridden Cooper Medical School. Rutgers-Camden minus the Rutgers administrative oversight is not Rutgers. It would be Norcross University, with its academic prestige dropping in kind.

The latest on UMDNJ, Rowan, et al

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Bob Braun has a column today where he notes that, given the choice, Richard McCormick would choose the UMDNJ campus in New Brunswick/Piscataway over Rutgers-Camden. Of course he would, because even with the downsides and problems with the Rowan deal, Rutgers still ends up far ahead in any trade. The odd thing about Braun's column though is his concern over UMDNJ's debt. Isn't most of the debt with UMDNJ's Newark campus, especially with University Hospital? There is always the possibility that UMDNJ would try to sandbag Rutgers in trying to force it to take on debt as a condition of the merger, but otherwise, I am not sure about the premises of Braun's larger article. It might take a while to unravel UMDNJ's finances, but Rutgers should stand firm on the point that it should not have to absorb any Newark-related debt. In other news, Rowan University has released its plan for a hypothetical merger with Rutgers-Camden, and it is predictably bad. (Down to the opening graphic on the front page of the report. Ocean County isn't South Jersey!) The plan demands "equal" funding at the same level as Rutgers and NJIT, which makes no sense given that Rutgers is a world-class research university. Given the legislature's lack of inclination to higher ed, that means money coming out of RU's pocket. The report also assumes that there won't be a mass exodus out of the Camden campus after a merger, which is certainly being threatened by existing faculty and students. This all seems awfully ambitious given that the Rutgers board is threatening to block any merger, though that is basic negotiating 101. Even the likes of Greg Brown, the Rutgers alumnus and Motorola CEO who is very close to Christie, are objecting. Maybe Brown can be a useful counterbalance to the influence of George Norcross with Christie. Update: the Philadelphia Inquirer today has a lengthy feature on Norcross.

George Norcross: a liar

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This interview was just linked on Rivals. Listen Norcross, you want to sell South Jersey on a merger, we get it. But to claim that "hundreds of millions" are being spent on Rutgers football is an outright lie. Stop the lies now, or a tepid Rutgers-New Brunswick response to the merger in Camden will turn into open warfare.

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