(JackHarris says, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” – promoted by Bill Orr)
The “secret” working group meeting behind closed doors on the Rut-Row merger has come up with a“conceptual plan” that bastardizes the Rutgers name and allows an opening for undue political influence in New Jersey’s flagship public university research system.
In what is essentially an end-run around the 1956 Rutgers Act, which establishes Rutgers as the state university of New Jersey while maintaining an independent Rutgers Board of Trustees to oversee Rutgers assets and historic ties to the Royal Charter of 1766 creating Rutgers, the proposed “compromise” creates a new independent board to oversee the combined Rut-Row operations in South Jersey. The kicker is that the newly combined entity would be allowed to retain the Rutgers name in some fashion.
What’s being asked of Rutgers is unconscionable and unheard of in American Higher Education. Rutgers is essentially being coerced into licensing it’s name and almost 250 year legacy as a colonial college and land grant institution to a former teachers college that has held university status for less than 20 years.
The Purdue/Indiana University merger example they use to justify this blatant attempt to hijack the Rutgers brand is so far-fetched it defies the imagination.
This proposal would be more like merging East Stroudsburg University with Penn State and allowing East Stroudsburg to use the Penn State name with no oversight from the central administration and governing boards in State College Pa, then it is the existing Purdue–Indiana University alliance in Fort Wayne Indiana.
It defies logic and lays clear a lack of knowledge about higher education and the role of public AAU research universities among New Jersey’s political leaders.
Unfortunately, this may be the death knell for New Jersey’s ability to innovate and compete in the 21st century. By so politicizing higher education and diluting New Jersey’s flagship public university, ranked 81st in the world according to the Times of London’s 2012 WW ranking of universities, I suspect it will be very difficult to develop the critical mass and attract the top-flight talent needed for the creative class economic clusters so vital to 21st century success.