Late Night Edition

 Football - L.J. Smith named All American - College Football -'s 2002 All-American Team - Monday December 09, 2002 04:36 PM

Big East Football - Someone finally had the guts to speak out on the issue that the Big East  has to address

"I know this agreement was made earlier,'' Rodriguez said. "I'm just a football coach and our players are just players, but we don't understand some of the political things. I don't understand why Notre Dame is getting the best of both worlds. I think the Big East is a great league and we can stand on our own. In my opinion, Notre Dame either needs to get in or get out.'' NCF - Coach lashes out at Irish after Gator Bowl snub


National Championship

Pass the salsa -- and make it spicy.
There's no doubt the University of Miami is the hottest team in college football.
The Miami Herald | 12/08/2002 | Back for seconds

Vegas Line

Miami over Ohio State by 13


The Merger Proposal

The RU Merger: What, no money? No problem!

By Michael M. Shapiro

The Report of the New Jersey Commission on Health Science, Education, and Training recommends merging Rutgers, UMDNJ, and NJIT to improve higher education in New Jersey but provides no evidence that a merger will accomplish the Commission's goal. If the merger will have any positive effect, it will improve medical education in New Jersey and possibly help the New Jersey pharmaceutical industry recruit and retain New Jersey employees. Governor McGreevey has said, "The cost of implementation will be clearly manageable." However, the recommendation to merge was made without any cost analysis of the plan. Will there be any savings from the merger? It has been suggested that the merger can cost more money than it will save. The Governor is asking the Legislature to commit early next year to the merger before the high costs and details are known. Committing to a plan with dubious benefits and unknown costs and details during an election year is not sound public policy or good politics. 

The potential effects of the merger are debatable. What is hard to dispute is that to improve higher education or even just medical education, the State must make higher education a priority and secure the funds necessary to make New Jersey's institutions of higher learning a success. The Commission's Report agrees, stating, "Implementation of this vision will require a one-time investment in the new university system for each university as well as continued fiscal support to ensure an adequate funding level to build further quality." Commission Chair Dr. Vagelos concurs, "I absolutely believe we need to spend more money, there is no doubt about it." Recently, Governor McGreevey stated that there would likely be no new money for the merger and that, "All three schools are fully funded today. I could argue that we could restructure without adding one cent." It could be argued that the moon is made of cheese but that would be factually incorrect. Just changing the signs alone at Rutgers will cost $1 million. While the Governor's optimism is intoxicating, let us hope that the Legislature will not euphorically rubberstamp this unfunded mandate for "excellence."

The merger touted by the Governor and the Commission will take a sustained investment by the State; the structure of the merged entity alone will not provide excellence. The administration lauds the Commission's Report for proposing the creation of a UC-like system for New Jersey. Experts in higher education have said that there is "no guarantee a UC-like system will work in New Jersey without additional state funding." California spends more money on its Universities than New Jersey - - Rutgers receives about $6,000 per student while California gives UC-Berkeley more than $17,000 per student. The money is used by UC to recruit top professors, build superior facilities, and keep tuition at a stable level. While tuition has skyrocketed at NJ institutions of higher education, tuition at UC has remained frozen the past eight years. The Governor stated recently, "The important thing to note is that all three universities are presently fully financed." 

There is a potential $4 billion state budget deficit for 2002-2003. Despite New Jersey's economic troubles, the Governor has been insistent that the merger take place. "The major concern is where the funds are going to come from. And we don't know where the funds are going to come from," Vagelos said. "People ask, 'Why do it now with the economy so bad?' We know the economy is bad, but we have a governor who's interested in higher education, thank God." One might ask how a governor's commitment to higher education alleviates our concerns about merging during these troubling economic times. 

Vagelos said earlier this month that next year's tight state budget would likely mean no new money immediately for the merger. "I have always assumed that there will be more money and I was told that upfront by the Governor," Vagelos said. "I'm taking him for his word." 

McGreevey has appointed another commission to examine how to finance the merger. He would like to present a bill to the Legislature early next year to commit the State to the merger. However, the committee charged with implementing the Commission's Report will not even meet until December 2002 and will take six to 12 months to complete its work, long after the Legislature would have committed the State to the plan. The Legislature might well find itself being blamed for the merger when the high costs and details become known, just prior to the 2003 election. 

The administration says that we must merge now and worry about money later, and that the money will be available when the time comes. With a multi-billion dollar deficit, it may take a long time for money to be available for such purposes. Vagelos has stated, "Can we go five years into this structure without additional funds? The answer is no. It will not work." Do we really want to risk the future of New Jersey's higher education system based on the proposed merger and no plan for funding? 
Approximately thirty years ago, Governor Cahill moved the medical school out of Rutgers University at great taxpayer expense and the Legislature approved it. About eight years ago, Governor Whitman eliminated the Department of Education and the Chancellor of Higher Education, and the Legislature again approved it, despite any evidence it would improve higher education. Now, Governor McGreevey wants to move the medical school back to Rutgers and create a Chancellor for the merged entity. Without any evidence that it will improve higher education, with unknown costs that may be exorbitant and without disclosing details that may be politically troubling, the Governor is preparing to ask the Legislature to commit to the concept of the merger. Am I mistaken or do these actions bring us back to the point where "innovation" in higher education began in New Jersey, thirty years ago? Let's hope that our Legislators do not make mistakes similar to their predecessors. 

Michael M. Shapiro is a third--year student at Stanford Law School. He serves on the Alumni and External Affairs Committee of the Stanford University Board of Trustees and was President of the Student Body at Stanford Law School. He graduated from Rutgers College, Rutgers University in 1998 with a B.A. in Political Science, and became one of the youngest people in the State of New Jersey to run for office of a major city when he ran for Mayor of the City of New Brunswick in 1998 at the age of 21. Mike welcomes your feedback via e-mail at 


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