UPDATED: 11:35 a.m.
It's official: The Rutgers University board of trustees -- the stewards of the institution's structure, as well as its real estate -- overwhelmingly oppose a merger of the Camden campus and Rowan University. They will keep the door open for a potential compromise, however.
While Thursday's 32-4 vote will not be the last word on Chris Christie's astonishingly ill-advised proposal to amputate Camden from Rutgers and mash it into Glassboro-based Rowan, the historically non-newsmaking trustees have certainly created an obstacle.
"I am gratified by the strong support for the Rutgers–Camden campus shown by the Rutgers Board of Trustees in this resolution," Wendell Pritchett, chancellor of Rutgers-Camden, said Friday. "We will continue to work with regional leaders to promote the advancement of Rutgers–Camden and to create new opportunities for higher education in southern New Jersey."
The unequivocal message from New Brunswick follows a grassroots groundswell against the governor's proposal. Students, faculty, alumni and others are outraged by this purportedly high-minded but egregiously short-sighted scheme to rearrange the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, in pursuit of … what, exactly, has never been made clear. At least, to those of us outside the Republican-Christiecrat star chamber.
And the vote was taken on the same day that vintage Christie antagonist and U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, appeared at Rutgers-Camden to (rather meanderingly) press his anti-merger campaign.
Says Rutgers-Camden law professor Adam Scales, a leading merger opponent, "we support greater financial autonomy for Rutgers-Camden, and partnership - not merger - with Rowan University. The Trustees' action yesterday reflects our view that a win-win solution must emerge from this process, and we welcome it."