Rutgers Students, Faculty Protest Merger Plans

Students and professors from Rutgers University's Camden campus protested a proposal to merge their school with Rowan University at a New Jersey Senate hearing on Monday.

The South Jersey campus merger is part of a larger proposal by Governor Chris Christie to reorganize the state's medical and dental school in Newark, which would move part of it to New Brunswick and contract with a private non-profit to run its hospital there. 

"Rowan is going to be one of the finest universities in the country when this is over," Christie said last week during a call-in show on radio station Jersey 101.5. 

Christie wants to fold Rutgers-Camden into Rowan, he says, to create a nationally recognized school for South Jersey that would include a law school, a medical school and would centralize research.

But many Rutgers-Camden students, professors and alumni are opposed to the idea. The law school faculty signed a letter opposing the proposal, and students are circulating petitions and protesting at the state capitol.

Law school dean Ray Solomon said his school's good reputation has been built for more than 65 years and is identified with the Rutgers name.

"We would not be as strong as we are now," said Ray Solomon, dean of the Rutgers-Camden Law School. "We recruit nationally now, and we would not be in a position to do that as well, at least not in the short run."

Most objections focus on keeping the name: Rutgers. The law school has a new building and many of its programs are tied to working on behalf of the people of Camden, Solomon said.

Rowan University was formerly called Glassboro State College and changed its name after a $100 million gift from Henry Rowan.

Christie's plan would have to be approved by the Rutgers University Board of Trustees.