Tag Archive: rutgers camden

Sunday Reading: Apocalypse, New Jersey

Rolling Stone coverThis, from the December 19 edition of Rolling Stone, hit the interwebs a few days ago, but I didn’t flag it for news roundup because it’s a long in-depth. I didn’t want people to skip by it on a busy morning.

Matt Taibbi’s profile of Camden, unfettered by any editorial whitewash like we might suspect from the Philly/South Jersey media empire now majority owned by Camden super-player George Norcross, is a glimpse of what struggling cities might expect under a President Chris Christie. Particularly where first responders and their unions (and public school educators and their unions) are concerned. And poor people everywhere. I guarantee you Detroit’s reading it.

I’d be interested to hear what you think. Already, Taibbi’s piece has its detractors. Courier Post calls it “inaccurate or incomplete generalization,” and complains Taibbi skipped talking to either Norcross, Dana Redd or Rob Andrews. And that Taibbi skipped good things going on. A Rutgers Camden professor calls it poverty porn and also says it misses the good stuff; “parades” and “fashion shows” are the first two things he mentions.

What do you think, Blue Jersey?

Apocalypse, New Jersey: A Dispatch From America’s Most Desperate Town – by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone)

“If it Bleeds, it Leads”

That old newspaper adage is exemplified by the South Jersey Times, which picked its top stories of 2012:

  • Woodstown woman dies of heart attack after burglary

  • Camden woman high on ‘wet’ decapitates son

  • Autumn Pasquale’s Murder

  • Crash kills Washington Township teen

  • Millville police officer killed in accident

  • Super derecho storm, death at Parvin State Park

  • Paulsboro train derailment

  • Woman attacks worker over 7-11 sausages

  • Kid forced to eat trash-picked bagel

  • Glass flows like lava at plant explosion

  • Woodstown woman dies of heart attack after burglary

  • Camden woman high on ‘wet’ decapitates son

That publication should be ashamed of itself by sensationalizing tragedy while ignoring some of the positive events in South Jersey:

  • The several non-profits and individuals in Camden working to make the city safer and better, including former Governor and South Jersey’s own Jim Florio celebrating the opening of affordable housing in the city.

  • The election of not one, but two Democrats to the Burlington County Board of Freeholders despite the injection of funds from Sheldon Adelson

  • The ascent of a new, young political star in Assemblyman Troy Singleton

  • The first class of physicians at Cooper Medical School

  • The saving of Rutgers Camden (despite the Governor)

  • South Jersey’s Senator Sweeney’s about-face on marriage equality, and his leadership in getting the bill passed (vetoed by the Governor)

  • Assemblyman Herb Conaway’s leadership in working to establish ubiquitous affordable health care across the state (vetoed by the Governor)

  • Senator Diane Allen’s leadership in combating teacher-on-student bullying.

  • Former Blue Jersey writer and Cherry Hill resident Jay Lassiter’s quest to implement the medical marijuana law despite the Governor’s ceaseless obstructions.

The Myth of Outmigration

promoted by Rosi

A large number of New Jersey students chose to go to college out of state, and have for at least the past 40 years.  This is a frequently stated rationale for the restructuring of higher education, particularly in South Jersey.   A review of research on this topic does not support the idea that combining or more closely joining the Rutgers University Camden and Rowan University would keep more students at home.  In 2009 Seton Hall doctoral student Alyssa McCloud wrote her dissertation,  Migration Patterns of College Students in New Jersey:  A Synthesis of the Data and Literature, and reviewed all existing studies and data on the subject.

She found that:

• Students who leave their home state for college have higher academic ability and higher family income (41).  NJ students out migration by county reflects the county income; students from more affluent counties are more likely to go out of state for college (158)

• Students prefer to migrate to neighboring states; New Jersey students who attend college out of state primarily choose colleges in New York and Pennsylvania (43).

• Students who go to college out of state most often attend a private college (45); academic reputation was the most frequent reason NJ students chose an out of state college (159); NJ students who want to attend public schools tend to stay in state (167)

• Greater state support of higher education leads to less out migration and more in migration (48).  States with more schools and more programs retain more students (53)

• First generation college students (those whose parents did not go to college) are less likely to go out of state for college (52)

• Capacity (the number of spots available) had no effect on NJ student migration (137)

• New Jersey has a relatively small system in comparison to most other states in terms of number of students, faculty, and institutions (139)

• Rutgers is one of the highest quality institutions in the state, and this is known to be an important draw for high-achieving students (150).  Princeton and Rutgers attracted 45% of out of state students coming to New Jersey for college (163)

I have looked for outmigration statistics by county and have not been able to locate them, so I cannot report on the difference in outmigration in South Jersey as opposed to other areas of the state.  Since students who leave the state tend to be from wealthier families and tend to choose private colleges and universities, it doesn’t make sense to restructure public universities in an attempt to keep them here.

Since students who do go out of state for a college education step over one state border to do so, to New York or Pennsylvania, it is impossible to say whether they step back across that state line when they graduate.  One prime example of this is Gov. Chris Christie, who attended college in Delaware and then came back home.  At least two of his senior administrators, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs also went out of state for college and then came back to New Jersey.

It is important to make in-state higher education as attractive as possible to New Jersey’s high school students, restructuring higher education, especially in South Jersey, is not the way to do it.

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.    

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.

Rowan Hires PR Firm

promoted by Rosi

Rowan University is advertising for a PR firm to help with internal communications, brand management, and merger issues relating to the the Barer Committee’s recommendation that Rutgers University’s Camden Campus be peeled way from Rutgers and made a part of Rowan University.  There has been more opposition to this than expected.  The full request for a quote, a 10 page pdf, can be found here.

McCormick Visits Rutgers Camden

Last Friday, Rutgers President Dick McCormick met with three groups on the university’s Camden Campus.  One of these meetings was a regularly scheduled University Senate meeting.  The other two were with faculty and students, to talk about the governor’s proposal to severe the Camden Campus from Rutgers and give it to Rowan University.

The first meeting was with faculty.  While the auditorium door was closed McCormick did not ask that the meeting not be taped.  There were a few themes to his remarks.  

One was that it is clear after last Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting that at this point in time the Board would not approve the measure.  Both the Rutgers Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees would have to agree before the change could be made.  There is general approval of the central part of the plan, that the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, and the Cancer Institute merge with Rutgers New Brunswick.  There is already a long history of collaboration among these organizations.  In fact, the medical school used to be part of Rutgers (see details below).  However, the loss of the Camden Campus was very unpopular among the Trustees.   This throws a monkey wrench into the works.  McCormick said that present these two parts of the plan  were combined at the request of South Jersey political forces.

A second theme was that, although not put into these exact terms, McCormick would give up the Camden Campus in order to get a New Brunswick medical school.  However, as stated above, it is not his decision.  Once the stance of the Board of Trustees became apparent McCormick said the situation had changed.  He says he and others tried very hard to separate the parts of the proposal, and to offer alternatives, such as a separate budget line for Camden and / or greater collaboration between Rutgers Camden and Rowan.  

A third theme is that one reason he won’t fight harder is fear of retribution.  He was asked why the University didn’t simply say no to the whole proposal and then suggest a path forward more to its liking.  The theory being the state has limited options on what to do with UMDNJ, the parent university for the state’s freestanding medical schools.  McCormick said there was a fear of reprisal in regards to the university’s budget.  He said in 1970 the university gave up it’s medical school (renamed the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) because the state said if it didn’t all money to support the school would be withheld.  While in this situation no specific threat had been issued he felt it was a possibility.

These three themes were repeated at each of the three meetings, although he backpedaled on the issue of budget reprisal later in the day.

There are two other interesting statements he made during the day.  One was that regardless of how the situation resolved he thought more higher education money would be going to South Jersey.  The other is that he thought South Jersey politicians wanted higher education in South Jersey to be more responsive to them.  McCormick cited the immediate past history of UMDNJ as a cautionary tale if that option is followed too far.  (This would be a reference to the case of former State Senator Wayne Bryant who had a “no show” job at UMDNJ and one reason why he is currently in prison.)

At all of the meetings students, faculty, staff, University Senators, and alumni spoke against the loss of the Camden Campus of Rutgers.  One man from Newark teared up as he recounted how his life had been changed for the better by the University Scholars program, that had led him to be a student at Rutgers where he had returned as a teacher.  He did not want Camden youth to miss that opportunity.

McCormick is stepping down in a few months and is guaranteed a very well-paying job in the history department on the New Brunswick campus ($300,000+).  Currently all three universities involved (UMDNJ, Rowan, and Rutgers) have interim or lame duck presidents.    

Lautenberg Questions Rowan Takeover of Rutgers Camden

Sen. Frank Lautenberg is asking some good questions about the proposed takeover of Rutgers Camden by Rowan University.  According to the Camden Courier Post (“Lautenberg raises questions over proposed merger,”) Lautenberg has written to Gov. Christie asking, among other things, how the different levels of tuition between the two schools will be handled, and for a list of facilities that would be handed over to Rowan.  There are a number of Rutgers programs in South Jersey, including the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory and the Pinelands Field Station.

This is the kind of detail that has been missing in all the conversation about severing the Camden Campus of Rutgers and subsuming it into Rowan University.  Hopefully Gov. Christie will make a public response.

Other details are coming from, surprise, surprise, the interim President of Rowan, Ali Houshmand, who seems to have had inside information in this matter for months.  He has posted an FAQ on the takeover, providing some information on what current Rutgers Camden faculty will be doing (“off campus and online programs”) and benchmarks for the first five years of the takeover, such as who will be living in the student housing currently being built in Camden (law and medical students).  How does he know this?  If he has a blueprint for how this will work, let’s see the whole thing.  

Kudos to Sen. Lautenberg for standing up and asking for some solid information on what has, heretofore, been a “ponies and rainbows” proposal.  

And while we’re talking about making information public, it would be very interesting to know why Rowan’s Middle States report is passworded.  Rutgers and most other schools make their Middle States self-study public.  Rowan’s can only be viewed by those with a Rowan login.

Rowan Advertises for M&A Firm

Rowan University, in its rush to forcibly take control of the Camden Campus of Rutgers University, is not waiting to see if the Barer Commission’s recommendations are acted upon by either an executive order from the governor or by legislative action, or amended or not acted upon at all.

It has posted an ad asking for bids from mergers & acquisitions law firms.  Lest their intentions not be clear, the RFP on the Rowan site starts out referencing the Barer Commission’s report and states:

It is the intention of Rowan University at this time to engage the services of a law firm with expertise in mergers and acquisitions to assist Rowan as it explores this exciting opportunity.

Rowan has consistently been ahead of the curve on this subject, with the acting president of the university talking of the takeover as a certainty in November, months before the commission released it’s report.  (see “At Rowan, an early acceptance of merger plan,” by Kevin Riordan in the Philadelphia Inquirer 2/02 for details).  One wonders if Rowan has inside information that the governor will use an executive order to proceed.

If so, both seem to have forgotten that both the Rutgers University Board of Governors and the Rutgers University Board of Trustees must agree.  The Board of Governors met in Camden last week and heard over 2 hours of testimony from those opposed to the separation of the Camden Campus from the university.  President McCormick stated at the beginning of that meeting that Camden was an essential part of Rutgers.  

The haste that Rowan shows in advertising for an M&A firm before any firm action has been taken is somewhat unseemly.  Even if Rowan is being given inside information and advance notice it might look better if they gave at least perfunctory attention to the fact that Rutgers Camden is still a functioning part of the State University of New Jersey.  There has been some refinement of terminology recently, discussion of a partnership and not an acquisition or takeover.  Hiring an M&A firm to plan, and signing a contract to pay for, an acquisition when the form and even existence of any such connection is uncertain, is premature.  

(For more information follow the archives section of www.r2rmerge.com or follow the Endangered Raptor on twitter — @EndangrdRaptr)

Background on Proposed Rowan Takeover of Rutgers Camden

Feedback from the Rutgers & Rowan communities is invited and encouraged. – Promoted by Rosi

The proposal to merger Rutgers Camden and Rowan University, with its new medical school, is one of several proposals made by Gov. Christie’s Advisory Committee on the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.   Their report, a 57 page pdf, is available on the web.  

The bulk of the report concerns the restructuring of UMDNJ.   Two of the committee’s charges pertained to South Jersey.  One was “whether UMDNJ.’s South Jersey .-based schools should be merged with any

of  the  senior  public  higher  education institutions in  South  Jersey” and the other “how graduate medical education should be  delivered in South Jersey.”  

UMDNJ has a medical school in Stratford (Camden County), the School of Osteopathic Medicine.  The Advisory Committee decided against merging that school with any other institution and essentially leaving it as an independent school.  

Cooper Hospital in Camden had had an agreement with another UMDNJ institution, Robert Woods Johnson Medical School, that allowed medical students to do two years of their school program at Cooper.  Cooper decided to open its own full medical school which became attached to Rowan University.  (For the full story behind this read “How Camden got a medical school” on nj.com.)  It is this medical school which forms the basis of the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that Rutgers Camden be separated from Rutgers and subsumed under Rowan University.  Another Adivsory Committee proposal is that Robert Woods Johnson Medical School leave the UMDNJ umbrella and become a part of Rutgers University.  There are other proposals in the Committee’s report and none are dependent upon or linked to any of the others.