NEW JERSEY — All three of New Jersey’s public research universities are now looking for new presidents amid a recommendation that at least two of the schools be reconfigured with the hope of producing more collaborative research.
While the openings at the top may put each school in a period of transition that provides an opportunity for a big merger, Gov. Chris Christie said they do not ensure that Rutgers, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey will all be combined into one super-university.
“I don’t think the vacancies in the presidencies make it more or less likely to merge the institutions,” Christie said last week. The governor said he would have more to say after a task force he appointed issues its final recommendations, expected this month. Newark-based NJIT, he said, is expected to remain a stand-alone school.
The idea of reorganizing the state’s public research universities has been around for at least a decade. In the past, a mix of politics and practicality has halted each effort.
But this time, it seems the push is more intense and it comes with an ambitious timeline. Rutgers, UMDNJ and the governor’s office have formed committees aimed at having Rutgers absorb parts of UMDNJ by July 1, even though the merger does not have any approvals and many questions remain about the details.
The stated goal of bringing together some combination of the institutions is to foster more research collaboration. Officials say it would boost Rutgers’ ability to get grants and make it more attractive for trials of drugs produced by New Jersey’s pharmaceutical companies.
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