July 23, 2019 | 68° F

Board of Trustees holds emergency meeting in light of Sweeney's proposed bill

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State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3), pictured speaking, has proposed a bill to Trenton that would add four politically appointed members to Rutgers' Board of Governors. 

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) has proposed a bill to Trenton that could affect Rutgers' Board of Governors, and many University affiliates feel the need to fight against it — so much so that the Board of Trustees called for an emergency meeting on Friday, May 30.

The bill, S-1860, proposes to add four additional politically appointed members to the current 15-member Board of Governors, according to a Star Ledger article. At the moment, eight members are selected by New Jersey's governor and seven are appointed by the Board of Trustees.

Under S-1860, the governor would have the power to fill 10 seats, and the the president of the state Senate and the speaker of the General Assembly would fill one seat each, according to the Star Ledger. The state Senate’s higher education committee plans to hold a hearing on the bill Monday.

At the emergency Board of Trustees meeting in Winants Hall on the College Avenue campus, several faculty members expressed opposition toward the bill.

Robert Williams, a professor in Rutgers School of Law-Camden, voiced his concerns. In a letter addressed to the Board of Trustees, Williams said, “The law cannot be changed without consent. It is now time for the Board of Trustees to assert their opposition to the bill and protect the rights of the school government.”

Patrick Nolan, executive director of the American Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers at Rutgers, also aired his grievances.

“I urge you, Board of Trustees, to stand strong along your opposition of the bill,” he said, reading from a self-written letter. “We need to respect the independent government of our university.”

The Board of Trustees plans to meet again to continue to discuss the bill.

Sweeney thinks University affiliates are overreacting and said the bill intends to help add new members with medical and health backgrounds to reflect the recent merger with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, according to the Star Ledger.

"They’re having an emergency meeting ... for what?" Sweeney said in the article. "This is them running around saying the sky is falling, and honestly it’s not. Nowhere in the bill does it do anything to hurt the trustees."

Jillian Pastor

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