NEWARK, N.J. —
The meeting was meant to address the sweeping plan to re-organize the state's higher education system, a priority of Gov. Chris Christie that the state legislature signed off on last year. The New Jersey Assembly will hold a budget hearing that will address the plan at the school Tuesday.
The goal, Barchi and state officials say, is to make Rutgers competitive with elite public institutions including the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia. Strengthening the school would also bring in more tuition from out-of-state students who are charged more.
Barchi, a neurologist, was hired to help implement the transition and oversee a meshing of Rutgers and the state's University of Medicine and Dentistry. Some members of Rutgers' board of governors have expressed concern over the merger, because Rutgers would absorb $500 in the medical school's debt. The merger could cost up to $75 million, Barchi said in December.
Some say Barchi's plans for the university shortchange the school's campuses in Camden in Newark.
Rutgers has three campuses: Camden, Newark and New Brunswick. Faculty and students here fear that Barchi wants to turn New Brunswick — where its sports teams are based, along with neighboring Piscataway— into a flagship campus, diverting resources from the other two. There is already a proposal to merge the Newark and Camden law schools and move strong research institutions to New Brunswick.
The three campuses have been designated with different missions: New Brunswick is research, Camden is service and Newark is diversity.
Diversity has been an important issue at Rutgers since the 2010 suicide of a student who learned his roommate had used a webcam to watch him kiss another man in his dorm. Faculty members calling for Barchi's ouster cited Rice's use of gay slurs in the video — and the school president's decision not the fire Rice immediately — as indicative of Barchi's lack of commitment to diversity.