LIZ WINTERS| STAFF WRITER
All semester students have heard the name “South Jersey University,” which have filled students and staff with apprehensions about the future of Rutgers. Through an in-depth interview with Mary Beth Daisy, Dean of Students at Rutgers-Camden, we gain insight into the merger quandary.
Through Dean Daisy, we learn that this merger would increase Rutgers-Camden independence by allowing it to remain on the “cutting edge” of research. The goal of the merger is to unite each Rutgers campus with a medical school, which will increase the research grants all parties are eligible for. Although the joint programs we have with the University of Medicine and Dentistry Of New Jersey (UMDNJ) does receive funding, there would be a great increase in the grants available if it was one institution.
Dean Daisy went further to explain that a great deal of financial supporters require that a university have both the research and medical facility within the same body. With Rutgers having one of the only Computational Biology programs in the state, and New Jersey having a wealth of pharmaceutical companies, the potential for advancement is there if the research funding was better backed. This expansion is not limited to the health field because it would also create jobs, and put us in books and journals.
“In order to do real in-depth research in the sciences and health fields, you need both a medical school and a research university combined. You need researchers who are creating knowledge in the high-tech and health fields, and medical practitioners to implement and test it. The combination medical and research University gets the best grants.”
The Dean explained, “Our campus is a rare thing. To have a research-oriented university without a ton of doctoral students, it allows our undergraduates to have so many more opportunities to get real research experience. Grants help the students to write the books that create the knowledge, so grants help the whole university, and they help our reputation to grow and be known throughout the world.”
Rutgers relationship to UMDNJ dates back to the beginning of our University, up until 30 years ago these two schools were actually one, then UMDNJ separated from Rutgers to establish some autonomy. The discussion of reuniting them has been going on for 10 years.
According to Dean Daisy, Governor Corzine was the one to start the discussion of reuniting the medical school with Rutgers-New Brunswick, but it was not financially possible at the time. She said that higher education was not able to give any more state funds to Rutgers, but indicated that after the scandals that UMDNJ has been involved in, there is more incentive for the school to merge with ours. This merger is not simplistic, and now that Rowan is involved, it creates more hurdles down to the micro level.
“Years ago it made sense for [Rutgers] New Brunswick to merge with the medical school [UMDNJ], now there’s a medical school [Cooper Medical School at Rowan University] three blocks away from us. so it can work for [Rutgers] Camden. Now that Rowan is a part of the mix, it provides more opportunity but also makes it more complex to merge four schools,” says Dean Daisy.
“Partly this talk and figuring out all that, if it can work, how will it work, is can it be Rowan, is it Rutgers, it is something new? So, that’s the discussion that’s going on. I think Rowan wants to stay Rowan, Rutgers wants to stay Rutgers, and so if neither one can keeps its own name, does it have to be a different name? But then you have to create a reputation from scratch versus 1766. Although Rowans only 15 years old, there’s connection to that name that’s important to South Jersey,” she said.
According to Dean Daisy, the King and Queen of England founded Rutgers-New Brunswick along with Columbia University, and both were invited to be part of the Ivy League community.
The Dean explained the origin of Rutgers-Camden, and said “history is repeating itself.” She recollects that this campus was originally called The Law School Of New Jersey and it was an undergraduate degree program. She noted that over time more programs were added, and in the 1950s, it was “added to Rutgers New-Brunswick’s portfolio.”
Dean Daisy said, “I’m not a better, so I can’t give you odds on whether this [merger]is going to happen or not. But with how complex and how big this merger is … I think that is going to happen. But, I think we’re going to stay Rutgers, and we will be great for what we are doing, and we will grow and expand.”
“No matter what happens, and the likelihood of any of this happening is not great because it’s so complicated, students will still graduate from Rutgers. If you started with Rutgers you will finish with Rutgers on your diploma, so students don’t need to feel that their degree is in jeopardy. As the chancellor says, ‘We want to remain part of Rutgers.’”
The Dean’s advice to Rutgers-Camden students is to “contact your senator, the schools SGA, NJ governor, the committee on higher education, and the committee researching this merger. Write something in the Newspaper, which some of our faculty has actually done that. Let their voice be heard, if they have something to say they should share that.”