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Newark Leaders See Benefit to Higher Education Restructuring

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The shuffling of New Jersey's state university system is gaining praise from Newark officials who say changes to the plan now make it advantageous to the city.

Mayor Cory Booker, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) and several other political leaders from Newark spoke in favor of the bill passed last week to reorganize the state university system. 

The revised plan, which has been controversial at campuses in both Newark and Camden, allows University Hospital in Newark to remain part of the medical school as a new institution called the Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences. Rutgers-Newark also obtains more representation on the Rutgers Board of Governors.

“Newark has more voice in governance. it has more transparency in funding. and more equity in a way that integrates it into the full university, which is extraordinary,” Booker said.

Booker told WNYC the coalition formed to hammer out a revised plan was a rarity in his political life – they took a plan reviled by many and came up with an alternative that is building a broad consensus.

“This has been a tough experience, an experience that's spread a lot of understandable fear in the northern New Jersey area,” Booker said. “ But ultimately we came to a conclusion that now has new found hope and possibility.”

The original reorganization plan would have removed the medical school from Newark’s University Hospital, where it is has been run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.  The current plan still hires a private non-profit contractor to run University Hospital, but it would remain a teaching hospital for the medical school.

Rutgers would take over most of UMDNJ, and a new medical school will be established in Camden.  Rutgers-Camden will partner with Rowan University in Glassboro, but the Camden school will keep its name and affiliation with Rutgers.