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First Rutgers, now Rowan takes issue

South NJ school in merger plans with Rutgers campus in Camden seeks changes to plan.

Gov. Christie's proposal to merge Rowan University with Rutgers University-Camden is now facing new opposition --this time from Rowan -- after weeks of contentious debate among leaders at Rutgers University.

Rowan's Board of Trustees is now recommending an amendment to last week's New Jersey Senate bill on the merger.

Rather than a joint board with overall jurisdiction over the partnered schools, as proposed in that bill, the Rowan board recommended an amendment in which the joint board oversees only new, shared programs between the two universities.

The trustees' proposal was based, in part, on a statement from the Rowan University Senate, which is made up of faculty and staff. Rowan Senate president Eric Milou attended the special meeting of the Board on Monday.

According to the university Senate statement, while the bill claims "to improve governance structure for Rowan and Rutgers-Camden," it would instead "diminish the autonomy and potential growth of both universities."

They also questioned the membership of the proposed board, which would have three of its seven members appointed by the governor.

"With no stipulation that these members have ties to southern New Jersey, the interests and motivations of these members will be ... open to question," the statement read.

After considering the Rowan Senate's statement in a closed-door meeting, the board voted to recommend the amendment to the state Senate's bill.

"We are assuming the whole notion of a merger is behind us, but this allows for the same result -- increased access and more programs," said Ali Houshmand, interim president of Rowan University.

Joint programs in life sciences, medicine, pharmacy, public health, nursing, allied health and food science have been discussed.

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