Sweeping legislation was introduced Monday to give a medical school to Rutgers University and reorganize its Newark, New Brunswick and Camden campuses into separate entities with their own financial and governing autonomy while retaining the Rutgers name, according to a release sent Monday evening from the office of the New Jersey Senate Democrats.
The bill, which also outlined changes to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and University Hospital, was introduced by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Sens. Donald Norcross and Joseph F. Vitale.
Under the legislation, Rutgers-Camden would be granted autonomy and operate under a new, seven-member Rutgers-Camden Board of Trustees, to include four gubernatorial appointees who must be residents of a South Jersey county.
Rutgers-Camden also would have financial autonomy, receiving state appropriations directly and managing tuition paid by Rutgers-Camden students. The new Rutgers-Camden board will have authority over its allocation of state appropriations, setting of tuition and fees, and hiring and promotion of faculty.
A new Rutgers-Newark Board of Governors would be created, with the authority to propose capital projects, an annual budget, new academic programs and degree requirements, and candidates for tenure and promotion, among other things.
UMDNJ and all its Newark and New Brunswick-based programs and assets — most notably, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School — would be absorbed by Rutgers, except for University Hospital, in Newark. Rutgers would also take over all of the UMDNJ debt, except for University Hospital’s outstanding debt.
University Hospital would be accounted for as a separate entity, and would receive its own direct state appropriations. A new, independent board would be established to govern University Hospital, to include representation from Rutgers. The hospital will partner with the health care system of its choice to assist in its day-to-day management and operations. Barnabas Health had been discussed as a leading contender to manage University Hospital, but it was unclear the status of those discussions on Monday night.
The Rutgers' board of governors would be expanded from 11 to 15 members “to more effectively oversee the expanded university and its assets,” according to an outline sent with the Senate Democrats press release. It would include the chair of the new Rutgers-Newark board of governors, two members who reside in a North Jersey county.
The bill also proposes designating Rowan University as a research institution.
A joint Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden governing board would be established, including two members from both the Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University boards of trustees, and three public members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The power and authority of the new joint board would include, among other things:
– Approval of decisions of the Rowan University Board of Trustees and Rutgers-Camden Board of Trustees.
– Entering into shared development of curricula, programs and dual degrees.
– Joint appointment of faculty to Rowan and Rutgers-Camden.
– Shared resources/services for housing, student affairs and security.
– Shared curricular oversight over joint programs.
– Shared capital investment and bonding authority in health science facilities.
– Shared operation and governance of science and health science facilities.
– Designated state allocation to advance partnerships and dual degrees.
Employees' union protections would be preserved at Rutgers-Newark, UMDNJ, Rutgers-Camden and Rowan, according to the release.
Reorganization plans have been criticized, especially by Rutgers-Camden faculty and students, and Newark and Essex County politicians. The release said the legislation was “developed after a vigorous process of research, public input and compromise with various stakeholders.”
"Many people provided not only their input, but their willingness to meet halfway on many of these elements. No one will get everything they want. But everyone will get something they want,” said Sweeney (D-West Deptford).
Norcross (D-Camden) said, “We have worked very hard over the last several weeks to listen to all sides of the debate and incorporate their ideas into this plan. Real change will be achieved only through respectful collaboration.”
Vitale (D-Woodbridge) called the legislation historic.
“Rutgers University and the medical schools both have outstanding reputations, but what we will create through this legislation will elevate these institutions to a level that was always thought about but not truly realized until this moment. In turn, the positive impact this will have on South Jersey from an educational and economic standpoint simply can’t be measured.”