Big Variable For Proposed Rutgers-Rowan Merger: Cost

Ann McClure's picture

Critics, including a U.S. senator, are convinced that a main motivation behind a plan to merge Rutgers University's Camden campus into Rowan University is an effort to improve the Glassboro school's financial position.

But Rowan officials say they don't yet know how the money would work out. And it's the same with the bond rating agency that's often cited in the debate.

"So many things could change it's hard to play the what-if game," said Edie Behr, a vice president and senior credit officer at Moody's Investors Service who has studied the merger plans. "Who's going to be responsible for the payment of which bonds, whether bonds will be refinanced are restructured, whether the state will help to offset the costs in some way."

Gov. Chris Christie is pushing for an agreement for the merger to be in place by July 1 as part of a bigger reconfiguration of the state's higher education system. In addition to combining the two southern New Jersey campuses into an institution that would be treated as the state's second comprehensive public research university, the University of Medicine and Dentistry would be broken up, with some of its schools being taken over by Rutgers and the remainder being renamed the New Jersey Health Sciences University.

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