A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

President of Thomas Edison State College Details School's Opposition to Proposed Merger into Rutgers U

The message below is adapted from an email I received from Dr. George A. Pruitt, President, Thomas Edison State College.

Thomas Edison State College is aware that New Jersey is in the midst of the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression and understands the sacrifice that is required of us, but we do not believe the public interest is served by the enacting of the proposal announced this week to merge our College into Rutgers. We firmly believe that this plan, which was not initiated by either institution, would destroy the mission of our College, deny educational opportunities to thousands of adult students, increase the cost of education and in no way enhance the economic development of our region.

We oppose the proposal for the following reasons:

It Threatens an Important Mission
Thomas Edison State College's distinctive mission can survive only in an autonomous, specialized institution. The College was created in 1972 because prominent educational leaders recommended, and state policy makers understood, that adult students could not be fully accommodated in the colleges and universities that were created to serve 18-22 year olds. This unique purpose was reinforced in the mid 1980s when, under the leadership of Governor Kean, specific funding was provided for Thomas Edison State College that enabled it to become a national leader in developing and providing flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities for self-directed adults through technology.

It Denies Access
Most of our alumni would not have been able to earn their degrees within the framework of Rutgers' current academic policy. Rutgers limits the number of credits that can be transferred from other institutions. Rutgers limits the number of credits that can be earned through testing and prior learning assessment. Rutgers limits the number of credits that can be earned from military and corporate training. Rutgers has very few programs tailored for adults and very limited experience in delivering online education for adult students. Rutgers operates on a traditional academic calendar (two semesters and summer sessions). Thomas Edison State College begins a new semester each month, enabling students to begin when they are ready and finish when they complete their degree requirements.

It Reduces Affordability
The current annual in-state tuition and fees at Rutgers total $11,874. At Thomas Edison State College, the current in-state comprehensive tuition and fees total $4,815. The current annual out-of-state tuition and fees at Rutgers total $20,456. At Thomas Edison State College, the current out-of-state comprehensive tuition and fees total $6,840. Thomas Edison State College is currently New Jersey's most affordable senior institution of higher education for New Jersey residents.

It Increases State Costs
Thomas Edison State College receives the fewest state appropriation dollars of any senior public institution of higher education; yet, with more than 18,000 students, we are the state's third largest college or university. Our current state appropriation is only $5.3 million. The College is supported mainly through student tuition and fees, which account for approximately 80 percent of its revenues. Our tuition and fees are the lowest in the state among all senior public institutions.

It Impacts the Economic Development of Trenton
The rationale behind the proposed merger is that by combining Thomas Edison State College, the New Jersey State Library and the New Jersey State Museum into a Rutgers campus in Trenton, economic development would be stimulated in our state capital. First, no state funding is being provided to support this initiative. Second, the New Jersey State Library is already a well-managed affiliate of Thomas Edison State College. Third, if the proposal is approved, there would still be a college, a library and a museum in Trenton. Fourth, students that require a traditional classroom experience in Trenton already have access to The College of New Jersey, Rider University, and Mercer County Community College. Fifth, Thomas Edison State College is already involved in important economic development work in the city of Trenton. Finally, both Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer and Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes have expressed opposition to this proposal and have said it is not in the best interests of the city and county.


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