Questions & Answers about:
The Proposed Rutgers-Camden/Rowan University Merger
Feb. 13, 2012
Gov. Chris Christie has enthusiastically supported a proposal to merge Rutgers-Camden with Rowan University to create a research university based in southern New Jersey that will:
- Ignite the economy by engaging in major research and attracting private investment
- Function as a regional magnet for entrepreneurship, grants and philanthropy
- Significantly increase access and available options for higher education for area residents
- Reduce the number of those who leave New Jersey for such opportunities
Below are facts about the proposal and answers to many questions that have been raised. Please send your questions, comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the President’s Office at 256-4100.
- What is the proposal?
- How and when will the proposal be adopted and implemented?
- Why did the advisory committee make this recommendation?
- Why is this merger important?
- How will the merger increase the total number of seats?
- Can Rowan handle this merger?
- How will this merger be implemented?
- What will the merger cost?
- Will current Rutgers students earn a Rutgers degree?
- How will the merger impact tuition?
- How will the merger affect programs?
- What will the merger mean for alumni?
The Faculty and Staff
- What will the merger mean for faculty and staff?
- How will the University reconcile the issue of there being different faculty unions with different tenure requirements?
A Vision for South Jersey
On Jan. 25, 2012, Gov. Christie expressed his support for a proposal by an advisory committee that, among other things, recommended the merger of Rutgers‐Camden and Rowan University under the Rowan name to develop a comprehensive public research university that benefits the region and the state. The proposal includes integrating Rutgers undergraduate and graduate programs, including the law school, into Rowan.
If approved, the advisory committee’s recommendation would create New Jersey’s second comprehensive research university. With Rutgers-New Brunswick in the northern part of the state and Rowan University in the south, New Jersey citizens will gain expanded access to higher education opportunities that can be offered only through a public research university.
The proposal could be adopted in one of two ways: through an executive reorganization order by the governor or action by the legislature. There is no firm timeline for either move to occur. Should the governor choose to issue an executive reorganization order though, the legislature would have a window of 60 days to raise objections.
Assuming that the proposal is adopted, the merging of two institutions of this size and caliber will take time to implement. There likely will be few discernable changes for the entire first year, which will be dedicated primarily to planning.
There are several reasons the advisory committee proposed this merger. Most important, the committee believes that merging Rutgers-Camden and Rowan and creating a comprehensive research institution will (a) improve educational opportunities and (b) enhance the economy of the region by attracting the new business that tends to cluster around research institutions.
a. The committee indicated that an expanded Rowan University “will over time provide the potential to offer exceptional educational options, including the potential to attract additional top students from all regions of the State.” As partnerships and collaborations form among faculty and staff of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan, the merged school can expect a proliferation of innovative programs that neither institution would be able to support on its own.
b. Employment and income data indicate that research universities bring expanded employment opportunities and higher income to a region. As Rowan University becomes a continuing source to provide educated workers, it becomes more feasible for knowledge-based industries to locate in the area.
Note: The advisory committee recommended that the merged institution retain the Rowan name in part because Rowan is a stand-alone institution with its own governing board, which provides it with the ability to address local and regional needs more easily than a satellite campus can.
The merger is important to New Jersey and the region for several reasons, including expanded educational opportunities and creation of a catalyst for economic development.
Each year, New Jersey exports approximately 35,000 high school graduates to out-of-state colleges and universities. The students leave for a variety of reasons, including an inability to find the educational programs they seek in New Jersey. Ultimately this may cost the State as much as $18 billion a year, when factoring in tuition, loss of long-term taxes from students who never return to New Jersey as working adults and more.
Additionally, the merger may begin to address the need for expanded educational opportunities in the southern half of the state. South Jersey is home to 30 percent of the State’s 8.2 million residents, but the region offers only 12.5 percent of the State’s higher education seats. The goal is to introduce and expand programs on the Glassboro and Rutgers-Camden campuses and to create partnerships with all of South Jersey’s community colleges to deliver Rowan programs on those community college campuses. While the latter does not require a merger to occur for it to move forward, a merger would create a more clearly defined path for those students who need and want to begin their educational careers at a community college and then receive a degree from the new Rowan.
With more seats comes the expectation of more adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, which is important to South Jersey. South Jersey has a much smaller number of adults with bachelor’s degrees than does North Jersey, 24.19 percent versus 37.14 percent of the population (the national average is 27.5 percent). With the exception of Burlington County, degree attainment in every one of the eight South Jersey counties is lower than all but one of the 13 North Jersey counties. College graduation rates correlate to a healthy economy and an ability to attract a variety of businesses to an area.
The proposed merger would join two highly respected regional institutions into a medium-size research university with partners in Cooper Health System and the Coriell Institute for Medical Research. Independently or relatively independently, all of the organizations have proven to be leaders in their fields. Together, they promise to transform education, health care, research and the economy of South Jersey.
Establishing Rowan as a public research university will impact the region economically and boost revitalization efforts in Camden and Glassboro. Historically, areas with strong academic research bases attract more research-related corporations and more private investment. Those companies bring jobs, including high-end technology positions, and infuse more money into a region. Regionally, the merged institution will be a magnet for entrepreneurship, large-scale grants and philanthropy.
If the merger were merely about combining the number of seats available at Rutgers-Camden and at Rowan, there would be no increase in access. The proposed merger, however, would allow the merged school to reach two distinct groups of students currently not served:
a. Many higher-achieving students have chosen to enroll elsewhere, either because local schools do not offer the programs they are interested in or because they are getting better value at another institution for their financial investment. Merging Rutgers-Camden and Rowan programs and faculty will enable new programs to come on line more creatively and more efficiently. Because Rutgers-Camden and Rowan will be collaborating rather than competing with one another, the curricular possibilities are truly exciting. At the same time, the expanded array of programs and opportunities will allow the merged university to offer more value for students’ tuition dollars.
b. Rowan’s physical infrastructure can accommodate a maximum of about 12,000 students, meaning that Rowan must turn away qualified applicants every year. In an effort to alleviate this problem, the University recently signed a dual-program agreement with Gloucester County College and plans to expand that concept to the other seven community colleges in the southern part of the state.
Although Rowan could pursue this strategy without the proposed merger, faculty and staff already are stretched thin. As Rowan personnel begin working with Rutgers-Camden colleagues, they will be able to benefit from the “critical mass” of additional faculty and staff to plan, manage and implement off-campus and online offerings.
Today, Rutgers-Camden and Rowan are serving a combined total of about 18,000 students. With expanded off-campus and online offerings made possible by combining the two schools’ permanent faculty and staff, the merged university could eventually serve 25,000 students, a significant increase in access. At the same time, because not all of those additional students will be seated physically in Glassboro and Camden classrooms, the merged institution will be able to accommodate the top-profile students who can best benefit from the traditional campus environment.
Fewer than 20 years ago, Rowan created the College of Engineering, which has been nationally ranked for years. Rowan created the College of Graduate and Continuing Education just five years ago, which now grosses more than $25 million a year to subsidize projects and programs at Rowan. In three years, it worked to found a medical school with Cooper University Hospital, a timeline widely thought unachievable. With private developers and the Borough of Glassboro, Rowan has worked the last few years on the $300 million Rowan Boulevard redevelopment project that links the campus to the historic downtown.
The Rowan endowment continues to grow through the generosity of alumni and South Jersey philanthropists. The interest earned from the endowment and the percentage dedicated toward University operations allow Rowan to support academic programs and take on projects at a rate and pace unlike the majority of colleges and universities on the East Coast.
Rowan has a strong track record of capitalizing on opportunities and adapting to change. Rutgers and its faculty and staff, along with community partners of both schools, also have proven track records in research, in economic development and in collaborating for the benefit of the region.
While the future no doubt will include many hurdles as the merger moves forward, its success will not be determined by the track record of one institution, but rather the work and commitment of the current Rutgers-Camden employees and students working with Rowan employees and students to develop the new university.
The question should not be whether Rowan is capable of handling the merger, but whether the two institutions can come together to develop an institution that has the potential to transform the region.
This will not be an easy undertaking. There will be many challenges, questions and perhaps even conflict, but what is being proposed and its potential impact on Camden, Glassboro and the region are too important an opportunity to abandon.
Rowan already has formed a merger planning team comprising cabinet members, deans, key managers, the presidents of the Senate and AFT, and select faculty and staff to discuss what it will take to make the merger successful. If the merger receives final approval, transition teams made up of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan employees will form at every level to tackle the myriad issues and propose changes to an expanded Rowan Board of Trustees. The effort will be inclusive and transparent.
As the Governor’s advisory committee indicated in its report, the new university needs to be properly funded. There will be initial and long-term costs, but administrators anticipate that a portion of the cost will come from funds that are no longer sent from the Rutgers-Camden campus to support Rutgers-New Brunswick operations.
The New Jersey legislature also is considering issuing a capital improvement bond for higher education, which will enable Rowan to construct facilities on both campuses. The goal is to argue for funds from such a bond to be distributed between the north and the south according to population rather than seats in the region. This will allow South Jersey institutions to receive 30 percent of the total bond (corresponding to the percentage of population) rather than 12 percent (corresponding to the percentage of seats available).
An overall funding plan for the merger, however, has yet to be developed.
Rowan will work closely with Rutgers University to ensure that all undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Rutgers-Camden as of September 2012 will be able to complete their programs and earn a Rutgers degree in their major. This is required of any institution accredited by Middle States, as both Rutgers and Rowan are. Those who earn their degrees at Rutgers-Camden will be Rutgers alumni.
Rowan’s financial stewardship has allowed the school to limit recent tuition increases to the rate of inflation. That is the plan for next year. Rowan is committed to providing the highest quality education to as many New Jersey students as possible at an affordable price.
Initially, departments and programs will be left intact at all campuses. As the transition evolves, committees of faculty and staff from Rutgers-Camden and Rowan will help determine the face of their current and future programs. Curricula will blend. New programs will develop.
Rowan anticipates a transitional period of concurrent dual curricula from 2013-16, during which time faculty will begin working on tailoring and blending curricula so that academic year 2016-17 will be the first year of the fully integrated institution and fully integrated curricula.
Rowan, with its Cooper Medical School, already is building a base of health science programs, allied health programs and related medical research. One of the most important developments that would come as a result of a Rutgers-Camden/Rowan union would be the creation of a College of Health Sciences. A synergy will develop among Cooper University Hospital doctors, Coriell Institute for Medical Research scientists and university faculty that would enable the new Rowan University to become a major force in both health sciences research and education. New programs, which would address national shortages, may include pharmacy, allied health, dentistry and biomedical science and engineering.
These efforts all will take a great deal of time, effort and collaboration.
Alumni will, of course, remain alumni of the university from which they graduated. All alumni will be welcome to participate in activities at the merged institution.
The Faculty and Staff
Merging the two institutions will require a lot of hard but rewarding work. There are few answers at this time about personnel issues such as faculty workloads, benefits, salaries or tenure; however, faculty and staff who have been employed, evaluated and (in the case of faculty) tenured under an existing set of criteria will not have expectations changed mid-stream.
Layoffs are not expected, although reconfigurations are possible. Both institutions are understaffed and are in an expansion rather than contraction mode. The goal is to create new programs and add educational offerings.
While in the short term things will stay the same, faculty and staff will be asked to play an active role in the restructuring of the new institution. It is important to note, though, that Rowan’s mission of delivering quality undergraduate education will remain unchanged.
While a complex issue, it is not insurmountable. The institution will depend heavily on the combined university senates and union leadership to develop fiscally manageable options.
Although both Rutgers-Camden and Rowan have a Carnegie classification of master’s institutions, the merger committees must develop a model that provides working conditions favorable to research and teaching.
There are many models to consider, but this merger likely will require a hybrid that is new to New Jersey.
The merger joins a nationally recognized four-year university based in Glassboro with the Camden campus of another highly respected university. It also includes collaboration with Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Cooper Health System and the Coriell Institute for Medical Research. Independently or relatively independently, all of the organizations have proven to be leaders in their fields. Together, they promise to transform education, health care, research and the economy, whether that is by creating a Camden-based College of Health Sciences, tackling cutting-edge research or attracting greater funding to the region.
The merger of the two institutions will create a critical mass of accredited and highly recognized programs. There are only 135 universities nationwide that have a medical school and fewer than 70 that have programs with national accreditations in business, education, engineering, medicine and law.
Historically, areas with a strong academic research base attract more research-related corporations and more private investment. Those companies bring jobs, including high-end technology positions, and infuse more money into a region.
The merged institution also will be a magnet for entrepreneurship, grants and philanthropy and ultimately will create a vibrant 12-month campus for both host communities that will spur economic and cultural activity.
A Vision for South Jersey
16. How much progress will be seen in the first five years?
Working together, the employees of the two institutions have the potential to make great progress in just a few years. In approximately five to seven years, the newly configured Rowan could be a 25,000-student research university with grant activity among the top 200 research institutions across the country.
It will have five nationally accredited programs, putting it in the company of fewer than 70 universities nationwide. A College of Health Sciences will have developed, and planning for professional degree programs in disciplines such as bioengineering, pharmacy, dentistry and psychology will be underway.
Class sizes will remain small, a long-protected tradition on both campuses. Faculty and staff from both campuses will be lauded for their ability to maintain the uniqueness of the two campuses while blending, expanding and developing new academic programs.
Glassboro’s Rowan Boulevard will feature a hotel, parking garage, classroom space, professional offices, and faculty and graduate student housing. Planning will be underway on the final few buildings in the $300 million redevelopment project. Camden and Rowan officials will be working with private developers to duplicate the success of this project in Camden.
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University will have graduated its first cohort and will be benefiting from partnerships with the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, University of the Sciences and other healthcare-related institutions.
The students who are enrolled as first-year students at Rutgers-Camden in fall 2012 will be completing their degrees and becoming Rutgers University alumni. Construction will be underway on facilities funded through a capital improvement bond issued in 2012. The new apartment building currently being built in Camden will be filled with law and medical school students, and there will be great demand for more student housing. Planning will be well underway on bridging the geographical gap between Cooper’s Health Science campus and the existing Rutgers-Camden campus, creating a nearly 2.5-mile long Ed/Meds corridor.
The Lanning Square neighborhood in Camden will continue to see growth and development due to the success of the medical school and the construction and opening of Cooper’s Cancer Institute.
The Rutgers-Camden/Rowan merger will not be complete, but it will be held up as a model for other institutions nationwide to emulate.