Tag Archive: Rowan

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!

News Roundup & Open Thread for Tuesday, May 15, 2012 – WTF Edition


What the Flack?

Governor Christie announces a “surprise” news conference on taxes. The surprise is that there’s no news conference. Meanwhile, the Treasurer delays publication of April revenue data. What does that do to the credibility of a tax cut?

The Democrats’ circular firing squad is at work again.

What the Frack?

Do you want your neighbor dumping his sewage in your back yard? I didn’t think so.

Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel gives a report card grade to the governor and the legislature on environmental stewardship.

What the Hack?

Will the Rutgers-Rowan controversy result in a Rutgers-Rowan campus? Who decides the school colors? How does the “Brown and Gold Knights” sound to ya?

Chalk up a win for GN3 and his buddy CC

Rothman/Pascrell Debate

I don’t have a dog in this race, but in today’s environment, it’s very refreshing to see two candidates argue over who is the most progressive.

Ravi Demonstration

Supporters of Dharun Ravi gathered in front of the State House to urge the court not to send Ravi to jail. Ravi was convicted on several charges for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate’s activities. If he gets a jail term, Ravi is subject to deportation.  

Ravi is not the only one looking for a break from the courts.

Our perennial favorite.


The “C” in their name stands for “conniption”. JC Penney has 15 stores in New Jersey and the conniption is coming from the bigots. Here’s why you should shop there.

Blue Jersey writer Senator Loretta Weinberg on Marriage Equality and Equal Pay. She spoke with Mike Schneider yesterday, before the press conference brouhaha.  

Watch Sen. Weinberg Wants Marriage Equality, Equal Pay in NJ on PBS.  See more from WNJT.

Don Norcross Again States Support of Rutgers Camden

promoted by Rosi

This past weekend Sen. Donald Norcross spoke to students who have been admitted to Rutgers Camden for next fall.  He again reiterated his support for the campus, and for keeping it part of Rutgers University.  There was no mention of any merger with Rowan University.  He has posted video of his remarks (5 minutes long) on YouTube.  The specific comments about the campus staying part of Rutgers is near the end.

This evening Sen. Norcross spoke to a group of alumni this evening and made similar remarks, even putting on a “Save Rutgers Camden” t-shirt.  No video available of that so far.  

It will be very interesting to see what, if any, legislation is developed regarding the restructuring of higher education in the state, especially in reference to UMDNJ and Rutgers.    

Rowan Trustees Funded Attack Ad Against Senator Lautenberg Using Norcross Machine PAC

promoted by Rosi


In may not be so surprising in light of new evidence that the Rutgers-Rowan Merger was a done deal before Christie and Norcross pretended to be advised that Rowan Trustees are giving money to a Norcross Machine Political Action Committee. From the Star Ledger:

If anyone missed the blast e-mail of Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s broadside against U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) for criticizing the takeover of Rutgers-Camden by Rowan University, they may well have seen the ad on PolitickerNJ.com – paid for by the Leaders Fund, a South Jersey PAC.

The Auditor has discovered several Rowan trustees helped pay for the ad. Martin McKernan and Nick Petroni have given $6,000 and $4,000, respectively, to the PAC since 2009. Plumbers and Pipefitters 322, whose business manager, James Kehoe, is another trustee, has donated $13,200 over the same period.

But don’t worry Rowan University is not going to be a tool for the machine and the merger is not about Norcross’ Cooper getting a bailout after DRPAesque financial mismanagement. Don’t worry.

And what about the “Leaders Fund”?

All Your South Jersey Campus Are Belong To Us

Be sure to read the “secret document” commissioned by Rowan and Cooper Health System, helpfully uploaded to saverutgerscamden.org. It’s a propadandapalooza!

– promoted by Rosi

Shortly after the proposal to destroy Rutgers-Camden was announced, internet memes dealing with the merger began to pop up,  such as “Keep RU Camden and Carry On” and the Boromir meme.  Several parodies, memes and other forms of internet entertainment have been shared by anti-merger proponents. They are wonderful diversions from the seriousness of the situation. I am impressed with the creativity and talent involved. Had I such creativity and talent, a meme that I have been wanting to parody is the All your base are belong to us.

Now, I get the chance.

Fittingly, on April 1st,  the $30,000 report commissioned by Rowan and Cooper Health System that was mentioned in Bob Braun’s excellent article became available.

The official name of this report, available here is, Establishing the New Rowan University. Upon reading it however, I propose that it should really be called All Your South Jersey Campus Are Belong To Us

There are many things that are upsetting about this report from the fact that the date of completion was the day after Gov. Christie announced the proposal to the public, to it’s dismissive tone of anticipated labor and personnel issues. It is a public relations document that essentially talks about how to dupe the public.

As usual, the Rutgers-Camden community has responded quickly, carefully looking at the report and pointing out the items that must be considered.

Prof. John Wall, Professor and Chair of the Rutgers Camden Department of Philosophy and Religion provides a response, How to Steal a Campus

The main points are:

1. The Rowan administration was working with the Governor and other parties long

before the proposed takeover was made public.

2. Instead of consulting with Rutgers-Camden, the Rowan administration made the

choice to force a hostile takeover through government fiat.

3. The primary motivation behind the takeover is the transfer of Rutgers-Camden assets

to Rowan and Rowan-Cooper.

This report makes it obvious that the “fix was in long before the merger was even presented to the public” to quote Senator Lautenberg’s press release which once again asks for answers to the many questions that remain regarding this hostile takeover.

While waiting for these answers, the Rutgers-Camden community will continue to respond to the New Rowan report in a variety of ways, such as this YouTube video.

Boss Norcross and his flunkie go after Lautenberg

Apparently increasingly frustrated that his plan to take over and destroy Rutgers Camden continues to run into trouble, Boss George Norcross took his frustrations out on Senator Frank Lautenberg today.  First, he had his flunkie, Steve Sweeney, attack Lautenberg for for asking the federal Department of Education to look into the matter:

“Sen. Lautenberg’s bizarre and misguided comments come at a time when New Jersey needs serious leadership on this issue,” said Sweeney, reacting to Lautenberg’s questioning of the Rowan for Rutgers deal. “Our state ranks a dismal 47th out of 50 in federal funding for higher education. That is unacceptable. Yet rather than fighting in Washington on our state’s behalf, he engages in unseemly grandstanding back home in an attempt to settle old political scores.”


Notice the emphasis on the word “bizzare.”  A not so subtle dig at Lautenberg’s age.

But ole’ Frank struck back, go right after Boss Norcross:

“The senator stands with the people of South Jersey who are questioning the wisdom of this back-room deal, not a political boss seeking to expand his influence,” said Lautenberg spokesman Caley Gray. “It’s sad that elected officials will simply fall in line on orders from their political benefactor when so many South Jerseyans are alarmed by this deal. Instead of attacking Senator Lautenberg, these politicians should be joining the senator in demanding answers from Governor Christie about the effect this deal will have on student costs, jobs, and the financial health of our state colleges.”  

Which raised the hackles of power hungry Boss.  First, he got all his flunkies to sponsor this internet ad:


Then he got involved himself:

“But on this issue, rather than taking cheap shots like a typical Washington politician, the Senator should be rolling up his sleeves and be part of a solution for a higher education model that strengthens Rutgers, Rowan, Newark and our region. Camden is not in the State of Maine, it’s in New Jersey and desperately needs the Senator’s help, not his hysteria. We should all be embarrassed that New Jersey ranks third to last in the United States on higher education funding. Rather than provoking a political food fight on this, let’s focus our efforts on fixing that disgusting blemish & improving higher education in our State and region.”


Even though the Boss tries to make this a north-south issue, what it really is is another naked power grab by the Boss.  As he seeks to expand his influence and line his pockets.

While Norcross sees potential to make Cooper a regional research foundation, the senator worries that a Rowan muscle-up would be little more than an opportunity for Norcross to relieve debt at Cooper Hospital, where the South Jersey power broker chairs the board.

Keep taking it to ’em Frank.  I guess it takes a guy in his 80s to show Democrats in New Jersey how to fight the power mad Christiecrats.

A response to the Norcross Promise of a New Era

promoted by Rosi, with thanks to Tom Knoche

Tom Knoche is a Part-Time Lecturer in Urban Studies at Rutgers Camden and author of Common Sense for Camden, a layperson’s guide to the Norcross machine and how it controls Camden. If you want to gain a better understanding of the Norcross/Camden history and connection, I recommend his book.

He has given me permission to post his letter that was written in response to an op-ed that appeared in the Courier Post on 2/1/12.

The Courier chose not to publish his response, and I feel that it is very important that this response be shared.

George Norcross’s “College merger could serve as promise of a new era” op-ed piece in the Courier-Post (2/1/2012) provides the usual development cheer leading that politicos always use to advance their pet projects, and that is rarely based on any serious analysis of the issues, costs and benefits involved. They never answer the crucial questions: Who benefits? and Who pays? It reminds us of so many development initiatives that never lived up to the promises and the hype. St. Lawrence Cement, Camden’s waterfront, Camden’s state takeover, and the hockey arena that led to the demise of the Pennsauken Mart are all painful local examples. Mr. Norcross enthusiastically supported and lobbied for all of them.

There are some serious contradictions in Mr. Norcross’s sales pitch. He argues that this merger and consolidation will result in new investment and more jobs. But aren’t consolidations touted these days to save money, reduce jobs, and break union contracts? He points to quite incredible increases in the size of the Rutgers-Camden and Rowan campuses. Why is consolidation necessary for this growth? Haven’t they been growing on their own? He points to NJ’s reduction in state education spending, now down to 47th out of 50 states. What does that have to do with this merger? Hasn’t a shift in state politics caused those cuts, engineered in part by Mr. Norcross’s new best friend, Republican Governor Christie?

Counter-point to Norcross’ viewpoint, continues below the fold …

The Merger: Since 2010? Not really.

promoted by Rosi

Today’s big merger news was the release of the Rowan blueprint/road map/plan for the merger. You can read it here.  Something that keeps showing up in all of the news reports on this plan is the misleading statement that the merger was first recommended by the commission headed by former Gov. Tom Kean in December 2010. I have spent some time looking at this report and would like to clarify that while the suggestion of a merger does appear in this report, it is NOT a recommendation of that task force that completed this report.

This is actually a very important point to make because part of the argument for the Barer report seems to be that this merger had previously been recommended. In looking closely at the December 2010 report, there is actually some contradiction regarding Rutgers-Camden.

In the actual report recommendations, the following statements are made:

The university’s campuses in Camden and Newark must also be part of any long-term vision of Rutgers.

Camden’s law school, unique doctoral program in childhood studies, and comprehensive four-year

undergraduate business curriculum help that campus contribute to the corporate, legal, and family needs of

the city of Camden and the region (p.62)


Rutgers-Camden must receive appropriate support to contribute to Rutgers’ statewide mission.

• Recommendation in the next section in this report should create opportunities for RutgersCamden to collaborate with other institutions of higher education and expand its research and

instructional missions (p.63)

NOT part of the final recommendations is Appendix Q.

Appendix Q, like the Barer report is primarily concerned with the status of the Cooper Medical School, rather than all of Higher Education.

The first reference to Appendix Q is on page 67. The emphasis is my own.


Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

Establishment of a four-year medical school in Camden-Cooper Medical School at Rowan University-

has already set a course independent from UMDNJ and is underway. Broader plans and concepts expressed

to the Task Force
regarding the future of Cooper Medical School and its relationship with other institutions

of higher education in New Jersey should be included as part of the follow-up study recommended in this

report. A summary of a proposal received by the Task Force appears in Appendix  Q

So it appears that parties outside of the Task Force provided these broader plans regarding Cooper Medical School’s relationship with other institutions.

And here is some of Appendix Q p.134 (emphasis my own)

Q: University of South Jersey

The concept below reflects many ideas we received regarding the future of Cooper Medical School of Rowan

University and its relationship with other institutions of higher education in southern New Jersey. We present it

here to contribute to the discussion we encourage to continue on this important matter

My interpretation of this is that outside parties made recommendations to the Task Force regarding Cooper Medical School. The Task Force is recommending that discussion continue, but it is not making a recommendation for these outside ideas and concepts to be acted upon, rather to be explored more thoroughly.

Within Appendix Q is this:

The essential ingredients of this university would be the merger of Rowan University and Rutgers-Camden

into a single university

ok..so now I’m confused. The recommendations of the commission firmly state on p.62 that

The university’s campuses in Camden and Newark must also be part of any long-term vision of Rutgers

yet in this appendix they recommend looking into a merger? Why did the task force include these outside suggestions if they directly contradict their recommendations?

Appendix Q goes on…

Combining Rowan University and Rutgers Camden to create a significant new Research University in South

Jersey would be the most important step the State could take toward providing adequate higher education

for this region.

A couple of things to point out.

This merger concept is viewed by the commission as something to be looked at in a follow-up study, so the merger was not recommended or even suggested by this report as many media outlets are claiming.

Who were the outside parties that presented this proposal to the task force? It is made very clear that this was not something that came from the task force itself, but rather from outside parties concerned with Cooper Medical School’s relationship with other institutions. It does not take long to consider who those outside parties may have been.

This idea and concept does not name this new entity or even suggest a name.

It is of concern that this report would on one hand recommend that the Camden campus be a part of any long-term vision of Rutgers and at the same time suggest that further exploration of an outside idea be explored.

Even more concerning are the missing details, minutes, reports and basic documentation demonstrating a reasonable bridge from the idea floated in Appendix Q to the conclusions in the Barer report.

Putting the cart before the horse? Wait, there isn’t even a horse.

promoted by Rosi

As I reflect on yesterday’s joint hearings of the Senate Higher Education Committee and the Assembly Higher Education Committee regarding the “merger” of Rowan and Rutgers-Camden, I think of the warning to not put the cart before the horse. This phrase is often used to explain how things must be done in the right order, especially when attempting to avoid failure. In my mind, the cart is the Barer report (a big cart filled with ideas, but lacking details). This cart was thrust onto the road, well in front of any means to carry it, in fact it doesn’t even seem to have a hitch. Even more distressing is the fact that there is no horse in sight, much less in front of it! After yesterday’s hearings, Governor Christie still insists this merger will happen, despite the fact that no one has seen a plan for implementation, or even solid facts, thus no horse to pull the cart.

It was noted by a Committee member that it appears that the plan has come before the facts. Those facts have yet to be disclosed by the Governor’s office with no evidence that the details exist. With the absence of communication and information from the Governor, many of yesterday’s speakers shared their knowledge and detailed research with the Committee.

There are several detailed articles regarding yesterday’s hearings written by journalists. I am not a journalist. I did attempt to tweet the proceedings, which can be read here

and here I will provide a brief summary and overall impression.

The tone was set with instructions to the audience that there was to be no clapping, cheering, booing or laughing. Clearly, this was a group of educators, expecting good classroom behavior 🙂

Many of the points made on both sides have been heard and written before. I urge anyone interested in more detailed information to visit this site, especially the page intended for NJ Legislators. The text of some of the testimony from the hearings is available here.

Of the 50 speakers, the majority were speaking against the merger, most representing Rutgers-Camden. I had hoped to hear more from Rowan staff, students and faculty, especially since the hearings were held at Rowan. I was actually quite surprised at how few spoke, but glad to hear some of their thoughts.

My overall impression from the Rowan speakers  is that they have a long history of change, are used to change and are preparing for change should it come. I did not get an overwhelming sense of strong feelings either way, simply an acceptance. The committee did learn that Rowan has been working internally on implementation of the merger “for several months” and have prepared a report. That report did not appear to be readily available, and the committee did request a copy. A member of Rowan’s board of trustees did provide one copy of this report to the chair.

The Committee did seem surprised to find out that at this time neither parties, Rowan or Rutgers-Camden are involved in any discussions/team/committee taking place within the Governor’s office. Obviously, this has been one of the major issues with this merger, major parties are not being included in discussions or being given details, if they exist.

Union representatives from all parties, including UMDNJ were there asking very important questions regarding the human element and the details involved in HR and labor relations.

Some of the points brought up during the hearings address the idea that the new entity would suddenly become a research university.  This idea does not take into consideration elements such as a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, or access to expensive databases and electronic resources provided by a research library.

Rutgers has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the prestigious national honor society. This is a University chapter. Loss of affiliation with Rutgers would eliminate access to this, as Rowan does not currently have a chapter, and it takes several years and stringent guidelines in order to establish a chapter.

Loss of affiliation with Rutgers would also eliminate access to a research library. Students on the Camden campus have access to all of the Rutgers library resources, severing that tie would eliminate access to many expensive databases. A more detailed analysis is available here.

 It is difficult to establish a research university without access to a research library and creation of a research library is quite an expensive and lengthy process.

A major theme in the presentations is the fact that Rowan and Rutgers-Camden are very different schools, each providing unique opportunities and experiences for the students who chose to attend. Eliminating this choice does not seem to be a way to keep students from leaving the state as pro-merger individuals would argue. One speaker even presented an overview of student outmigration that does not support the pro-merger stance – here.

I find it very interesting that a pro-merger argument is that South Jersey does not have a research university, when in fact it does and it is Rutgers-Camden. In listening to the presentations and reading the well researched reports and analysis, it is clear that the Rutgers-Camden community is conducting the research that should have been done by the members of the Barer report before it was presented.

The Higher Education Committee expressed the need for due diligence and for obtaining more details on the plan. There are many unanswered questions and hopefully the Committee will continue to try to seek answers to these important concerns by citizens, taxpayers and voters.