Author Archive: JackHarris

Understanding Rutgers Governance Part II: Towards a Stakeholder Model of Governance at Rutgers

promoted by Rosi

Yesterday I showed how Rutgers supposed complex governance isn’t really all that complex.

The real problem people seem to have with the Rutgers Board of Trustees is that it puts up an institutional bulwark against political meddling and rash decisions. However, there is room for improvement in Rutgers overall governance structure, especially in terms of transparency, democratic decision-making and shared governance.

Rutgers Complex Governance Isn’t Really All that Complex: Part 1 of Improving Rutgers Governance

promoted by Rosi

Understanding Rutgers governance is really just a simple matter of understanding that Rutgers fulfills three missions that have developed over time. Rutgers was founded as a colonial college in 1766, became a land grant university in 1864, and agreed to become New Jersey’s public university in 1956 with the establishment of the Rutgers Compact between the Rutgers Board of Trustees and The State of New Jersey.  

Transactional Politics Won’t Protect Rutgers Institutional Integrity

promoted by Rosi

Throughout his career John Farmer, the former NJ Attorney General and Current Rutgers General Counsel, has been a sane voice of reason in the most complicated of circumstances. His reasoned counsel won him recognition as one of New Jersey’s top general counsel’s this year by NJ Biz. But General Farmer’s reasoned counsel in the ongoing matter of State Senator Steve Sweeney vs. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, puts Rutgers at risk and fails to support  General Farmer’s comprehensive view of New Jersey and Rutgers history, institutional heritage, laws and public policies.  

NJ State Support of Rutgers Doesn’t Merit 63% Control of RU Governing Board

promoted by Rosi

Rumor has it that the badly flawed bill S1860, sponsored by State Senate President Sweeney, will come up for a vote today.

S1860 is probably illegal according to an opinion released by New Jersey’s Office of Legislative Services (OLS) yesterday.

In addition to flouting state and constitutional law, the bill gives the state 63% control of the Rutgers Board of Governors while the state provides only 19.5% of Rutgers $3.6 billion dollar budget.  In general, New Jersey provides less than 25% of Rutgers budget and is usually below 20% in direct state support for Rutgers. Direct state appropriations to Rutgers for FY2013 were actually less than 1995’s Direct State appropriations and have been on a steady decline since Governor Christie assumed office and Senator Sweeney became Senate President.  

Matt Katz “Four Reasons to be Frustrated by Democracy in New Jersey “

Great piece by WNYC/NJ Public Radio Reporter Matt Katz on the dim environment for democracy in New Jersey right now:

Four Reasons to be Frustrated by Democracy in New Jersey

I’d add a fifth reason:

Continued Politicization of New Jersey Higher Education

Rowan-Rutgers board hires politically connected CEO without search

Senate Panel Moves to Add More Political Appointees to Rutgers Board of Governors

The War over Rutgers

Should Rutgers go private to avoid politicization of NJ Higher Ed?

Oliver will not advance bill to dissolve Rutgers Board of Trustees

Rutgers General Counsel John Farmer named among NJ’s Top General Counsels

promoted by Rosi

NJBiz named Rutgers General Counsel John Farmer as one of New Jersey’s Top General Counsels yesterday. The former NJ Attorney General who has only held the Rutgers post since April of 2013, was named for his skill in handling the Mike Rice basketball scandal while simultaneously helping to conclude the Rutgers/UMDNJ merger (the largest ever in Higher Education), issuing over $1 billion dollars in new bonds as part of that merger, and helping to ward off last year’s attempt by Senate President Sweeney to unilaterally eliminate the Rutgers Board of Trustees.

Farmer has a history of public service at the highest levels having served as General Counsel to the 9/11 Commission under former Governor Thomas Kean, Chief Counsel under Governor Whitman and as New Jersey Attorney General. Farmer has a strong and clear vision of New Jersey history, and of New Jersey as a coherent whole, not as a collection of warring political fiefdoms dominated by local chiefs, which he strongly argued in his 2012 column defending Rutgers from takeover by Glassboro State College Rowan University and their South Jersey benefactors.   As keepitreal noted in my dairy on taking Rutgers private this week, Rutgers has a lot of legal firepower on their side.

Rutgers sure does!

Congratulations General Farmer!

Should Rutgers Go Private to Avoid Politicization of NJ Higher Ed?

Diary rescue from a very busy primary day. Promoted by Rosi.

Yesterday, the Senate Higher Education Committee in a predictable party-line vote, voted 3-2 to advance S1860 which restructures Rutgers governance without the consent of the Board of Trustees (nor the consent of Rutgers 450,000 living alumni, faculty, staff, students and other key stakeholders in the nearly 250 year old university).  The bill packs Rutgers Board of Governors with political appointees and creates an unwieldy board of 19, split between 12 political appointees and 7 Board of Trustees appointees, which mainly represent the alumni and Rutgers fiduciary interests.  The bill moves governance from an 8-7 political/BOT split, to an overwhelming majority of political appointees beholden to the Governor, the State Senate President and Assembly Speaker,

Senate Minority Leader Kean remained steadfast in his opposition to political mucking about in New Jersey’s flagship public university. State Senate President Sweeney signaled his ongoing commitment to politicizing higher education in New Jersey by sitting in on the committee hearing and engaging in rancorous back and forth with the Rutgers Board of Trustees Chairwoman, Dorothy Cantor.

This is the third attempt in three years that Senator Sweeney has attempted to disrupt Rutgers governance and organizational structures, first by an attempted give-away of Rutgers-Camden to Glassboro State College Rowan University and Cooper Medical School, last year in a unilateral attempt to dissolve the Rutgers Board of Trustees by legislative fiat, and this year by packing the Rutgers Board of Governors with political appointees.  

NJ State Legislature Goes after Rutgers Governance again, Ignores State Mismanagement

The State Legislature is taking another swing at the Rutgers University governance structures after failing to gift Rutgers-Camden to Rowan University in 2012 and failing to eliminate the Rutgers Board of Trustees in last year’s legislative session.

S1860 and A3046 Sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto respectively, would increase the number of political appointees on the Rutgers Board of Governors (the BOG) from 15 to 19, effectively diluting the Board of Trustees voting rights by creating a 12-7 majority of political appointees on the Rutgers BOG. The Rutgers BOG has already expanded from 11 to 15 members as part of the UMDNJ merger and a further expansion to 19 members would create a very unwieldy operating board sitting on top of a complex governance structure that was made even more complex by the “compromises” arising from the recent machinations surrounding the proposed give-away of Rutgers-Camden to Rowan and the Rowan-Cooper Medical school.

This is simply a bad bill. It creates more complexity and an unwieldy operating board. If the goal is to add medical and biomedical expertise to the BOG (Something the Rutgers Board of Trustees has already done with their own appointments to the BOG following the merger with UMDNJ), simply require that a certain number of gubernatorial appointments have a medical, pharma, or biomedical background.  Starting July 1st, there are three BOG vacancies that the Governor can fill with candidates from a medical or biomedical background. These are part of the normal governance rotation and do not require any special legislation or changes in the existing governance structure.

The Rutgers BOG oversees Rutgers $3.6 billion dollar annual budget, appoints the president and provides oversight on key executive, leadership and reputational strategies and initiatives.  They are the board that oversees the people and policies that govern Rutgers operations on a day to day basis, while the Rutgers Board of Trustees has primary responsibility for all the assets and property that existed prior to our 1956 contract with the state to serve as New Jersey’s public university.

Rather than focusing on a pattern and record of continual state mismanagement under Governor Christie — the various NJ Transit debacles, a track record of missing deadlines and losing out on Federal dollars across various state agencies, the sacrifice of NJ’s Equine Industry for Atlantic City casino interests, failed economic development initiatives such as the failure to leverage Fort Monmouth’s assets to create new high tech and university innovation clusters, to name just a few — Democratic leadership in the state legislature seems intent on fixing a system that isn’t broken and that has served the state well under both Democratic and Republican leadership since 1956 when Rutgers — founded in 1766 by Royal Charter — entered into a contract with the State of New Jersey to serve as New Jersey’s State University.

The Rutgers Act of 1956 does not allow for changes to Rutgers governance and organizational structures without the consent of the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees has fiduciary responsibility for the university’s assets and property dating back to 1766 and provides a direct link with Rutgers colonial heritage. Rutgers is one of only 9 colleges or universities founded before the American Revolution, and along with William and Mary, one of two public institutions of higher education with a colonial heritage. The 1956 Act was structured to keep this heritage intact and to keep Rutgers protected from political interference and outright land grabs.

After two failed attempts at politicizing higher education at Rutgers, you would think New Jersey’s State Democratic Leadership would have learned their lesson by now and would focus on the real issues of stalled economic development, high unemployment, high property taxes, unsustainable traffic congestion, a decaying transit infrastructure and threats to our watersheds in the Highlands of North Jersey and the Pinelands of South Jersey.  

Kyrillos new Senate Minority Leader?

Update Kean beats O’Toole 10-6 to keep Senate Minority Leadership Post

Politicker NJ reporting that State Senator Joe Kyrillos is meeting at Christie’s statehouse office after Kean Jr had a short 10 minute meeting there this am, with no comment to reporters afterwards.

Very interesting and very telling, Kyrillos and his family are very close to the Christies.

If it goes down this way it will tell us a lot about the Chrisite agenda and add even more data about his M.O.

A Kryllios pick doesn’t build or expand the NJ GOP or in any meaningful way.

If Christie is looking for an affluent suburban/Monmouth type pick, why not someone like State Senator Jennifer Beck who represents core urban areas with large Latino populations in addition to affluent suburbia?

I think we know the answers to that!  

Sandy Birthday Wishes

Wow. This is excellent. Thank you for catching it and making sure we saw it, Jack. I’ve met Ben Haygood, along with several other Occupy Sandy organizers at a conference in NYC. The groundwork they’re doing is amazing, and they’re serving people the Governor’s self-serving spotlight has largely ignored. This, from Ben’s piece, is a killer line: ‘Sir — I AM Jersey Strong. It’s just that my local post office doesn’t recognize “beach behind the dunes” or “Toyota behind the Wawa.”‘ – Promoted by Rosi

Published yesterday in The Huffington Post by Ben Haygood, a field organizer/case manager for Occupy Sandy NJ. The stories conveyed are real stories and the solutions Ben offers are real, practical solutions.

My Birthday Wish (Huffington Post)

Ben covers a wide swath of territory from Barnegat Bay in Ocean County to the Rahway River in Eastern Union county, including the hard hit areas in the Bayshore along the southern rim of Raritan Bay.

We have the people and the will to get things done, but many many road blocks still exist.  Ben has provided a real road map that could move us forward.