Christie Signs Higher Education Reform Bill, Expands Rutgers

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed the bipartisan ‘New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act’ into law. This represents only the latest step in Christie’s long-term commitment to improving education system within the state. The legislation is expected to promote sustainable economic growth by fostering three hubs of excellence in higher education located in the north, central and south regions of the state.

“This is a transformative and historic day for higher education in New Jersey. After decades of politics getting in the way of a desperately needed rethinking and restructuring of our higher education system, we have again come together in a bipartisan way to put our state’s students, our long-term economic viability and our future generations first,” said Governor Christie. “Along with our commitment to support a bond referendum to invest three-quarters of a billion dollars in capital improvements, we are undertaking the broadest, boldest, and most important restructuring of New Jersey’s higher education landscape in decades.”

The reform, scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2013, will transfer all departments of the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, except the School of Osteopathic Medicine, to Rutgers, spurring it on to becoming a top-25 research institute. The School of Osteopathic Medicine will be transferred to Rowan University, which will be established as a public research university.

“Today, the Governor fulfills his promise to make higher education in New Jersey a priority after decades of neglect,” said Secretary Hendricks. “The changes enacted by this legislation will help the state attract and retain exceptional talent.

Speaker Sheila Oliver said that the new law would provide for the growth and development of Rutgers-Newark, and especially by expanding the graduate medical programs. Senator Donald Norcross believes that the restructuring will spur research and development in the life sciences, creating jobs and economic opportunity.

“A highly trained, capable work force is essential to New Jersey’s future, because it is the most important element in attracting new businesses to our state,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act is the third bill that Governor Christie has signed this month concerning higher education. He has already signed legislation that will allow a referendum to appear on the November ballot regarding a $750 million higher education bond — the first higher education general obligation bond issued for capital improvements in nearly 25 years if voters approve the measure. In addition, Christie has signed a bill making it easier for public institutions to enter into a public-private partnership to provide for construction on campuses.

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