After a long period of uncertainty, it appears Rutgers School of Law-Camden will not leave the Rutgers system as had been discussed. At least that’s what Dean Rayman Solomon recently announced to staff and students.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had vowed to fold the law school into Rowan University, a former teachers college that became a university in 1997. That proposal, designed to bring more money into the state’s higher educational system, was controversial from the start.
A vast majority of New Jersey residents, and almost everyone at Rutgers School of Law-Camden, opposed the merger. Students, faculty, and alumni made their voices heard through protests and lobbying efforts.
In June, the New Jersey Legislature worked out a compromise — restructuring higher education in the state, but excluding a merger between the two New Jersey state universities. Also in June, the New Jersey Supreme Court dealt a setback to the powers of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of the merger’s biggest proponents who had left open the possibility of acting unilaterally on the merger.
“This is what we were working toward,” said Rayman Solomon, Dean of Rutgers School of Law – Camden. “It’s a result of a lot of things. Organizing by faculty, alumni … leadership from the chancellor [Wendell Pritchett]. And things happened that worked to our benefit.”
The legislation still must be approved by both Rutgers and Rowan University boards, and Christie must sign the new law. But Solomon is confident the issue will be at rest.
“It kept us as part of the university for all intents and purposes,” Solomon said, hoping that the issue will now be put to rest. “Assuming it gets signed by the Governor and Board of Trustees, I doubt this will come up anytime in the near future.”
When complete, the only tangible change for Rutgers will be a new budget oversight board, which would have to sign off on budgetary decisions by the school. Solomon said the legislation is a huge victory for the law school.