Students, faculty, and staff at Rutgers University–Camden are protesting a planned move that would sever their campus from the statewide Rutgers system and merge it with Rowan University twenty miles to the south. Proponents of the change, including New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, say it is meant to help promote higher education opportunities in the southern part of the state. Opponents, including the Rutgers Council of AAUP Chapters, say the move may be meant only to enhance the image of Rowan’s medical school when it opens later this year. The proposed merger would mean that students in southern New Jersey would no longer have the option of attending a local campus of the state’s flagship university, and the change could cost billions of dollars, ultimately paid for by taxpayers. The proposal has been advanced without significant input from the Rutgers–Camden community.
AAUP president Cary Nelson strongly opposed the merger in a statement, saying that Rutgers–Camden “would lose its status as a Research I AAU university, something that would likely take decades to regain. Student applications would almost certainly decline.” Jean-Louis Hippolyte, a professor of French at Rutgers–Camden, says that “Rutgers–Camden is part of the Rutgers family. And families ought to stay together, not be split apart for money, greed, or power.” Both Nelson’s and Hippolyte’s statements are available on Academe Blog at http://www.academeblog.org.