Testimony of Richard L. McCormick President of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Assembly Budget Committee
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thomas Edison State College, the State Library, and the State Museum

In testimony before the Assembly Budget Committee, President McCormick commented on Governor Christie’s Fiscal Year 2010–2011 budget proposal, specifically on the governor’s proposal to merge Rutgers with Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, an institution geared toward distance learning and other nontraditional collegiate programs for more than 18,000 adult learners. The governor has also proposed to have Rutgers take over the operations of the State Library, which is now overseen by Thomas Edison State College, and the State Museum.

While Rutgers did not originate this proposal, we appreciate the confidence placed in us by Governor Christie and, indeed, have great admiration for the Thomas Edison State College, its leadership, and its mission of serving thousands of nontraditional students through a variety of educational means. Rutgers is already significantly expanding programs for nontraditional students and online education. Dr. George Pruitt and I have met once and talked several times to discuss this.

Following release of the Governor’s proposal, which includes the State Library and the State Museum, as well as the Thomas Edison State College, I asked my leadership team to undertake a full review and due diligence on the proposal—including academic opportunities, financial challenges, legal issues, and governance concerns, among others. That due diligence is still underway. This is a weighty, multi-part proposal, and it will take time fully to evaluate it.

Already I can say, however, that some issues have emerged that would require not only time but also effort and resources to resolve. Could Rutgers fulfill the complete educational mission of the Thomas Edison State College? Could Rutgers meet the needs of the hundreds of local libraries that are currently served by the State Library? Do the finances pencil out?

These are worthy questions, and there are others. The answers will not come easily. Appropriately, therefore, we are studying the proposal with the serious and thoughtful consideration it demands and deserves.