Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rutgers considers merging its two law schools


Rutgers explores merging Camden and Newark law schools

Rutgers University is exploring a plan to merge its two law schools by 2014, president Robert L. Barchi announced Thursday at a board of governors meeting.

The separately accredited schools in Newark and Camden would combine under one Rutgers banner, with a single faculty, student body, and admissions process. Faculties at both schools voted unanimously in late January to support the idea.

"I strongly and heartily support to move forward with a concept that would bring the law schools at Rutgers together," Barchi told the board Thursday.

At a time when legal education is in a national spotlight because of rising costs and tightening job opportunities, deans of the schools said the move could help Rutgers strengthen its brand and expand its reach.

A merger could become "a solution that can really enable us to make law school more affordable, more accessible, and will enhance the job opportunities for our graduates to have both the New York and Philadelphia markets and together with the whole East Coast," said Rayman Solomon, dean of the School of Law in Camden.

Pooled resources could lower tuitions or increase scholarship funding, said John J. Farmer Jr., dean of the School of Law in Newark.

The deans could not say how the administrative structures would work - Solomon joked about playing musical chairs to determine whom the dean would be - or what the potential merger would cost.

"Everyone has lots of questions, some of which can't be answered yet," Solomon noted before the meeting.

One thing was clear, Farmer said. "Do we remain committed to Camden and Newark?" he asked. "Absolutely, yes."

There are no plans to close or move the campuses, the president and deans said, or are there plans to expand to New Brunswick, Rutgers' main campus.

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