Costs of reorganizing Rutgers campuses ‘huge,’ university trustee says

As officials of Rutgers University met Wednesday to talk about the proposal to realign the state’s higher education system, one trustee sounded a warning to taxpayers.

Trustee Abe Suydam said he is concerned about the costs of reorganizing the campuses in Camden, New Brunswick and Newark.

“The numbers are going to be huge,” said Suydam. “Now, maybe we can handle some of it, but I would suggest the taxpayers can’t handle this. And those numbers, it’s time that they start being shared.”

In a rare joint meeting in New Brunswick, the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors of Rutgers University affirmed a set of principles that would maintain the independence and autonomy of its campuses — while still pursuing a reorganization of the New Jersey’s higher education system.

The boards indicated support for the integration of the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey’s medical school if the state provides funding for one-time integration costs. They also pledged to evaluate a collaborative program with Rowan University provided that all of the institutions retain their independence and authority.

Students, faculty and admnistrators at Rutgers-Camden have vehemently protested Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to merge the school with Rowan.

Trustee Al Gamper says the statement of principles is contrary to proposed legislation to reorganize the higher education system.

“If you look at the principles and then look at the legislation, you can’t square them,” Gamper said. “It’s pretty hard to say go and negotiate, but with these principles there’s not much room to negotiate here.”

Trustees chairman Ken Schmidt is hopeful negotiations can produce an acceptable compromise.

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