Dear Colleague ,
We are pleased to report that the bill to restructure higher education has passed with the amendments that the union championed. The final amended bill now assures collaboration, not “merger” or “takeover”! The bill is on its way to Governor Christie’s desk and he is expected to sign it into law.
Victory: Rutgers University remains whole!
Our previous update explained that we were concerned about the composition of the new boards, especially the proposal for a joint board over Rowan University and Rutgers-Camden. We are very happy to report that the final amendments in the bill have limited the scope of the Rowan-Rutgers Camden board to the health sciences, areas where we have positive opportunities for growth and partnership. Through intense work with the legislative sponsors, the union was instrumental in getting the bill amended.
Rutgers-Camden has achieved greater autonomy because the bill specifies that appropriations from the state budget will be sent directly to the campus.
We also have Camden and Newark campus advisory boards that include for the first time designated faculty, staff, and student members, including explicit seats to appoint our own respective members for the AAUP-AFT as well as the staff union, URA-AFT. Students also have the authority to appoint two undergraduate students from the local student governing association.
With the unionized Rutgers faculty and staff exercising strong and effective advocacy roles in Trenton, we have strengthened regional education both north and south, while preserving Camden and Newark campuses as integral parts of Rutgers University. The central Rutgers Board of Governors retains its authority to grant tenure and promotion throughout the Rutgers system. The bill protects jobs and rights on the job; i.e., the bill is clear that no layoffs or changes in terms and conditions of employment may be initiated from the passage of this bill.
Passage of this amended bill is indeed a victory, however there are continuing concerns about the financial impact of the restructuring on the university. We encourage the governing boards of Rutgers to continue their fiscal due diligence to insure that all academic and research programs are maintained and expanded, not just the health sciences. We also want to be clear that the costs of merger should not be borne by our students through increased tuition. Now that higher education has the attention of the Governor and the Legislature, we call on them to work with us to increase state support for instruction so that our students, faculty and staff can focus on the educational and research missions of Rutgers and not on high tuition and low wages.
Thank you all very much for your dedication in seeing this process through to a positive resolution that strengthens higher education for all of New Jersey. The union has effectively promoted collaboration as the best way to achieve educational and research goals as well as enhancing the voices for students, faculty, and staff in governance.
Adrienne Eaton, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Janet Golden, AAUP-AFT Executive Council Representative
Lisa Zeidner, Camden Chapter President-Elect
11 Stone Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901