Save Rutgers: Rowan Issues Its Plan and “Assumptions” for the Takeover

Yesterday Rowan University unveiled a 19 page document that outlined what it sees as the way forward for the takeover of Rutgers Camden. The report itself is rather interesting. It lays out a ton of timelines, gives a general overview of when power and assets will be transferred, discusses degree transitions for current students, and…oh, I almost forgot, just like the initial UMDNJ report, it says nothing about what this takeover is actually going to cost!

I read the report last night, and you can read it yourself because I attached it to this article, but I just wanted to share my thoughts with you on some of my favorite parts…

Assumptions

Apparently someone has never told the drafters at Rowan what happens when you assume things, especially things that are far from settled. Here is a quick list of the best assumptions listed in the report and why they are ones that should not be made:

  1. An executive order will merge Rutgers Camden and Rowan University. They start off with a doozy. It has been well documented, first by me based on my own research and a very informative lecture from Professor Bob Williams at Rutgers Law, and later by the rest of the media, that the Governor is unlikely to be able to force this merger by executive order. You can read my previous article for the details, but basically a law passed in 1994 puts a substantial road block in the Governor’s way. This means that the plan would need to be passed by the legislature, and does not even begin to consider how the Rutgers Boards take part. This assumption is the absolute most empty assumption they could make. Oh wait, no its not . . .
  2. Rowan will be grants certification as a research university. This one is dumb too. Here is the issue, just because the state says you are a research institution does not make it so. Maybe it does for funding purposes, maybe it technically gives you the right to put the designation in your PR materials, but if there is no one reputable there to do the research, then what does that make you? There is a ton of speculation regarding top researchers at Rutgers Camden jumping ship if this thing goes through in a takeover fashion. If that happens, Rowan has a lot of recruiting to do before they can truly claim that status.
  3. The merger . . . will not be successfully challenged by external parties. Apparently people at Rowan are not familiar with the incredibly liberal standing policies in the New Jersey state courts. In our fine state, almost anyone can sue for almost anything. What I find most interesting about this line is that they consider the opposition to be “external.” In reality, the opposition is the very people that Rowan will be taking over. If anything, the challenge will be internal if Rowan gets its way.

There are more you can read in the report.

Fun Graphics

Rowan decided to make their report fun. They threw in these neat little timeline charts to explain how this supposed 14 month long pre-takover and 7 year transitional period will work. Take a look!

That first little dotted arrow on the left is supposedly July 1 of this year, when the Governor says he wants this thing in motion by. I don’t think that is going to happen. Throw that up above with the poor assumptions. Anyway, that arrow represents the moment when Rowan says there needs to be an immediate infusion of funding to start the takeover process. Of course they do not say how much will be needed at that point, or at any other point in the timeline.

Then there is a chart regarding the curriculum switch (click to enlarge).

This one is actually interesting because it clears up some confusion. Since the beginning we have been hearing the whole “students will be able to get their degrees from Rutgers” line from both sides. I am happy to say that for current students that is still true. However, any students entering Rutgers Camden in the upcoming academic year will still be taking Rutgers classes and learning a Rutgers curriculum, but receive a degree from Rowan University. That includes students who will be starting this fall and may have paid their deposit and enrolled for the fall before this merger was officially announced.

Conclusions

Essentially what Rowan did here was spend 19 pages outlining a fantasy. They put forth an aspirational set of goals and a timeline that I do not think is rooted in any reality, and if it were, I believe that they would have backed it up with more detail.

What seems to be happening here is that those who are for this takeover are stonewalling. That unfortunately includes the Governor, who as you know I support 99.9% of the time. They are stalling while the anti-merger movement fights and sadly sets itself back from time to time. They would only stonewall for two possible reasons:

  1. They have no idea what the details of this plan are, or
  2. The costs and details of this plan are going to be so tough to swallow that releasing them before the merger is underway would undermine the entire process.

Both reasons are perfectly possible, and equally scary. As always, keep checking back with us for the latest on all things takeover.

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