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Codey, Roberts Announce Full Membership Of Legislative Task Force Created To Consider University Merger

Panel to Explore Creation of Top-Notch Research School to Drive NJ Economy

TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr. today announced the full membership of a bipartisan legislative task force they established to create a unified state research university that would sharpen New Jersey’s competitive edge in the health-science, technology, and research business sectors.

Earlier this week Codey (D-Essex) and Roberts (D-Camden) announced Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Assemblyman Caraballo (D-Essex, Union) as the co-chairs of the Legislative Task Force on Higher Education and the Economy.

Today, the legislative presiding officers announced the remaining appointments: Senators Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), Robert Martin (R-Morris, Passaic), and Nicholas Asselta (R-Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland); and Assembly members Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), Marcia Karrow (R-Hunterdon, Warren) and Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth, Middlesex).

The legislative presiding officers said the task force members were chosen with input from Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon) and Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris). Codey and Roberts said the task force would assess the potential for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s premier research universities – Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

“Our task force members will be charged with exploring the best ways to maximize these resources, attract the best and the brightest to the Garden State and, as I’ve said before, position New Jersey to become the East Coast version of Silicon Valley, and a model for research and technology well into the future,” said Codey.

“A world-class research university focused squarely on generating new scientific and technological breakthroughs can serve an economic incubator that attracts new investments, new jobs, and new companies to this state,” said Roberts. “The task force members have an opportunity to chart a new course for achieving significant economic dividends.”

The Task Force is charged with looking at the merger and reorganization proposals outlined in the 2003 report from the New Jersey Commission on Health Sciences, Education and Training, commonly referred to as the “Vagelos Report” in recognition of Commission chair Roy P. Vagelos. The Task Force will rely on the framework proposed in the “Vagelos Report” as its primary, but not exclusive, basis to make recommendations to improve and expand the capacity and capabilities of New Jersey’s research universities.

The Task Force will be required to propose a detailed timeline and strategy for implementing any of its recommendations, presenting its findings no later than nine months following an organizational meeting.

The co-chairs are in the process of establishing a schedule for the task force and expect to hold the first meeting within the next several weeks.