Yesterday in passing I mentioned a coming vote by the Rutgers Board of Trustees on the merger and their support of a potential compromise plan currently in the works. Well last night that vote took place.
According to NJ.com, the Board of Trustees rejected the merger plan, or any severance of Rutgers-Camden from Rutgers University by a vote of 32 – 4.
We are committed to Rutgers-Camden, its students, its prospective students, its faculty and staff, and its service to higher education, to the Camden community and the people of the state of New Jersey,” the board’s resolution said. “The proposed severance of Rutgers-Camden is inconsistent with the mission of Rutgers University.”
The resolution added the trustees remain “open to alternative proposals where Rutgers-Camden remains part of Rutgers University.”
The Board of Trustees is one of two boards that control Rutgers University. The Trustees derive their power from the original Trustees of Queens College, the original chartered university in the 1770s. They control all of the private assets of the University (the NJ.com article above incorrectly states that they control all physical assets).
Under the 1956 law that created “Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey,” the Trustees have the option to take back the private assets from the public trust if the the state government reneges on its responsibilities to support Rutgers and its mission. There are numerous expressed conditions in the statute for when they can do this, and courts have stated that if this ever happened, the they would likely compel the state to comply rather than allow Rutgers to fall apart.
This “poison pill” power is part of what gives Rutgers’ its hybrid status as a state institution, which makes it impossible for Governor Christie to exercise a unilateral executive reorganization of the school. The time limit for an executive reorganization plan passed this week if the merger were to happen by Governor Christie’s desired July 1 deadline.