In early December, just as Gov. Christie's task force was putting the final touches on his controversial plan to overhaul New Jersey's public university system - including a merger of Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University - a similar conversation was concluding 160 miles south on I-95.
For six months, the University of Maryland's governing board of regents had examined merging its Baltimore school into its sprawling redbrick campus at College Park. But with opposition fierce from the faculty in Baltimore and the city's mayor fighting the proposal, the board had heard enough.
In a report released Dec. 9, it opted against an outright merger in favor of expanding joint degree programs and research between the two schools, writing: "To fully succeed, a merger must have the support of the leadership, faculty, staff, and students at both institutions."
On state university campuses across the country, the concept of consolidating campuses and academic assets has gained increasing traction in recent years as state support for higher education declines, and there's a growing sense that tuition increases are becoming politically untenable at public universities.