Barchi is an idiot. Dumping Pernetti basically forces Barchi to resign too, since he either blessed the suspension w/o paying attention OR lied about seeing the tape - there's really no other possibility. What an idiot. Protecting Pernetti and letting him land a big fish coach to change the news cycle was their only hope.
The New Jersey legislature has finally recognized the obvious: their proposed merger bill is plain unconstitutional without the approval of Rutgers University governing boards, which up to this point have largely been a bystander in the process, as the Newark and Camden delegations demanded unfair concession after unfair concession. Not only were those self-serving changes largely unacceptable to Rutgers, but the backroom politicians making those deals did not have authority to negotiate for Rutgers! Now the question becomes who blinks with Christie's July 30th deadline fast approaching. There's the old car salesman trick, where terms of a deal change at the last minute, and you go along with it anyway because you are already far too invested in negotiations. That's the pratfall that has to be avoided. Rutgers needs to be ready to walk away, because they only get one thing they want in this deal, at too high a cost. (While the original, simple Camden for UMDNJ-NB trade was unfair, it still would have been a net boon for the university.) It's time to tell Norcross off. The only part of this merger that makes any sense at all is the New Brunswick part, and that should be the only change that happens.
Rutgers announced some really exciting news today - they're going to develop lot 8 where the grease trucks already sit, along with partnering with DEVCO to buy the New Brunswick Theological Seminary site. (Don't know what's up with them, but they should probably just move to Somerset or Piscataway, somewhere like that.) Sure, people will be ticked about moving the grease trucks, but can anyone deny that there should be something more important on that spot than a parking lot? Besides, the idea of grease truck lot is a relatively recent development, with Rutgers first offering use of the site to get the trucks off of College Avenue several years back. Relatively, it's ahistorical. You should be far more upset over Rutgers paving over the spot of the first ever college football game with a parking lot. Rutgers, frankly, is cramped for space. Now they get to build two huge swaths of valuable College Avenue real estate. The seminary spot will have a brand new academic complex, lot 8 will have a new Rockoff-style (re: souped up and more expensive) dorm, and another parking deck (eh, it's needed, but these are hard to not make really ugly) is on tap as well. Update: this thread on Rivals has the goods with more details.
A SL report this morning says that the UMDNJ/Rowan mergers will be pushed back to July 2013. This is probably a combination of many factors - opposition to the Rowan plan, Newark whining about University Hospital, and RU's lawsuit threats suddenly becoming very real by hiring the likes of Neal Katyal. The report also says that, surprise surprise, the universities involved will have to pay for the mergers. The current proposal is both nonsensical and unconstitutional, so it's good to see a delay in that sense. However, the merger between Rutgers and UMDNJ in New Brunswick and Piscataway remains a vital, urgent necessity for recharging New Jersey's economy. We cannot allow that part of the process to be delayed. We just need to stop the parts of the plan that don't make sense (Norcross stealing Camden, giving Rutgers the corrupt part of UMDNJ, Newark demanding unfair payoffs) to be stopped cold. Just do the part of the plan that everyone wants to happen. Update: a corrupt backroom deal has been negotiated with the Newark delegation. The idea that there are going to be Essex County seats on the Rutgers board, or that Rutgers may be forced to take over University Hospital are mortifying. These legislators are negotiating on behalf of Rutgers when they do not have that authority! Only the university BoG does. Rutgers cannot stand idly by while these corrupt politicians try to take over our university. It's time to sue and tank this legislation once and for all. These amendments simply are not acceptable under any standard.
The gist of the statement is essentially that the current proposal is insane and a horrible deal for Rutgers, but let's talk. Obviously, you have lots of different factions at play here. Ralph Izzo on the BoG is very close to Chris Christie, but he also has to recognize how bad this deal is; but on the other hand, his loyalty is to Rutgers, not Rutgers Camden, and Izzo won't hesitate to negotiate for a better deal. On the other hand, you have Camden professors and students who are opposed to a deal under any circumstances. To them, all I can say is that if the Rutgers BoT/BoG releases a statement that does not outright dismiss the proposal, like it or not, it's time to make preparations that your campus is going to be traded for a medical school. If the deal is right, that always has been and always will be a very easy choice for Rutgers. Of course, this deal is not right, not even close. Rutgers needs to torpedo all of the Newark proposals, refuse to take on UMDNJ's debt, stop George Norcross from using the Rutgers name, extract additional financial concessions, and maybe even consolidate the law schools in New Brunswick. The Sweeney proposal could not possibly be a worse piece of legislation, which is why Loretta Weinberg's statement of praise, and support from other Senate Democrats like Paul Sarlo and Joe Vitale (a traitor to Middlesex County if there ever was one) are enough to induce vomit. As for Farmer's article, the points are correct with respect to Sweeney's awful proposal. However, as to the broader idea of separating Rutgers-Camden, I don't really agree. It's clear that Norcross U would be a clown college with no academic prestige, and it would be completely devoid of funding as all resources are shifted into debt-ridden Cooper Medical School. Therefore, there is no chance that it would pose a genuine threat to Rutgers. The thing is though that this so-called university cannot be allowed to use the Rutgers name, and that Sweeney's idea to designate Rowan as the research university for South Jersey, and Rutgers as the research university for North Jersey must be eviscerated, never to return. Now and forever, Rutgers must retain its status and sole designation the state university for all of New Jersey - regardless of whether it keeps its satellite campuses in Newark and Camden or not.
As expected, the proposal includes provisions for new governing boards in Newark and Camden, which is anathema and unacceptable to the Rutgers boards. George Norcross is still free to loot the Camden campus. Other changes include: 1. As an apparent end-run around Newark's excessive desire for political bribes, Sweeney proposes that Rutgers absorb EVERY UMDNJ asset except for University Hospital. Actually, Rutgers would not want to do this, because UMDNJ is a political patronage mill more than a medical school. It does create the super-patronage mill that Essex County politicians want though, and NJIT has to feel nervous tonight that they will be next in the crosshairs to be gobbled up. 2. In an effort to further curb RU's political independence, Stephen Sweeney's proposal would increase the size of the university's board of governors from 11 to 15 members. Sweeney does concede that the proposal will change, and Newark is definitely gearing for a fight. Now it's up to Rutgers to pit these two groups of fools against each other, and somehow get out of this mess by regaining its stolen medical school.
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.
The university's Board of Governors has yet to weigh in though, and this plan may be DOA. In that sense, the vote doesn't really mean much. As far as Rutgers is concerned, the original plan may well be far better than the new alternative, which would still let George Norcross take over Rutgers-Camden, and would unfairly let the Newark and Camden campuses benefit from their affiliation with the New Brunswick campus without fair compensation. From the Rutgers perspective, losing Camden is regrettable, but it is worth the loss of a hospital. Having a Rutgers campus not actually controlled by Rutgers is another matter entirely. This could well hold the potential to destroy the academic reputation of Rutgers University. Just imagine George Norcross setting the tenure standards on campus, hiring and firing faculty, giving degrees on a whim to the politically connected, all by fiat. By hook or by crook, Norcross would inevitably use Camden to prop up his indebted Cooper Medical School. This "compromise" is worse than the original proposal, and is not a compromise in any manner of the sort. In fact, it's a better deal for Norcross, in being able to seize control of the Camden campus, and still have the ability to steal the Rutgers name to launder all manner of misdeeds. The very fact that this is being negotiated proves that the Rutgers name is an invaluable commodity, and is not something that any Rutgers governing body can afford to cede under any circumstances.
The Rowan merger may be dead, but Donald Norcross is still trying to seize control of Rutgers-Camden. As reported in the past, the new plan is for Rutgers-Camden to keep its name, but have a governing board solely consisting of George Norcross lackeys. This is completely unacceptable, and in many respects worse than the Rowan merger. In all likelihood, RU-Camden will still be merged with Rowan down the line with all of its Cooper Medical School debt. The idea of an institution with the Rutgers name not being governed by the Rutgers Board of Governors is a complete non-starter that Rutgers should not agree to under any circumstances. This is the same crappy deal in a different wrapping. It is in no way a compromise. Norcross is trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes.
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