Rowan or Rutgers? Better for the Camden campus (Opinion)

Tim Goral's picture
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Putting Rutgers-Camden under the Rowan University umbrella is best for South Jersey's students, and the region.

The proposed realignment of New Jersey's major university would provide a long needed makeover of the state's fragmented higher-education network.

It would merge the Camden campus of Rutgers University with Glassboro-based Rowan. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey would link with Rutgers' main New Brunswick campus. The result would be a stronger higher-education system that could better compete with the nation's top public universities.

The proposal would give Rowan campuses in both Glassboro and Camden, which would include a law school, two business schools, and the soon-to-open Cooper Medical School. Rowan would join an elite group of universities with a medical school and a law school.

The merger would also help stem the "brain-drain" exodus of bright young people who leave the state to go to college. Each year, about 35,000 students leave New Jersey to attend college elsewhere. That's more than in any other state. And most never return.

The problem is more acute in South Jersey, which has about 30 percent of New Jersey's population, but only about 12 percent of the seats for college undergraduates. Except for Burlington, none of the eight South Jersey counties comes close to the statewide average of 34 percent of its residents with baccalaureate degrees. The averages in the south range from 13 percent in Cumberland to 27 percent in Camden and Cape May Counties.

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