NJ Dems Rip Proposed Rutgers-Rowan Merger

Some New Jersey Democrats took aim at a controversial plan to merge the Rutgers-Camden campus with Rowan University during a hearing on higher education funding Wednesday.

The plan, proposed by Governor Chris Christie, would reorganize the state’s higher education system that includes the Rutgers-Rowan merger, and incorporating Robert Wood Johnson Medical School into Rutgers. Democrats are divided on the merger – with most South Jersey Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney, backing the plan.

But Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto, a Democrat from Northern New Jersey,   complained about what he said was a “shocking” lack of information the Christie administration has provided about the proposed merger.

“Something this big requires study and analysis, especially when it comes to the finances,” Preito said. “I expect much more from the administration.”

Rochelle Hendricks, secretary of higher education, told the Assembly Budget Committee that she would be providing more details and exact costs within two months.

Even though no estimates have been provided, Democrats in the Assembly say the merger is too expensive.

“With cuts in several higher education categories, including direct aid to schools, our focus should be on getting more students to college and less about forcing a $1 billion-plus merger on students that don’t even want it,” said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, a Democrat from Bergen County.

Rowan University is a state school that changed its name after benefactor Henry Rowan, a millionaire engineer, donated $100 million in 1992.