TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr. today announced that they have extended the deadline for submission of a report by the bipartisan Legislative Task Force on Higher Education and the Economy, which has been charged with examining a possible restructuring of New Jersey’s research universities. Originally expected to be completed by August, the task force has now been granted an extension until December 1 in order to conduct a more thorough examination of the complex factors involved.
“With so much attention recently focused on passing our annual budget, it’s in our best interests to give the task force the extra time they need to conduct a more thoughtful and thorough study,” said Sen. Codey. “There’s no reason to rush an issue of this magnitude.”
“The mission here is to get the job done right,” said Speaker Roberts (D-Camden). “The work of this task force is critically important for the state’s future in terms of economic development, research, and overall educational excellence. It’s an undertaking that ultimately will be graded on its merits, not on its deadline.”
The extension was granted at the request of the taskforce’s chairs – Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo (D-Essex, Union) – who stressed that further study was necessary in order to fully examine all of the factors involved in creating a top-tier school that would encourage public and private investment in New Jersey’s technology and research business sectors.
The chairmen cited the need to hear from the new president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), as well as the need to evaluate the physical logistics and costs of restructuring facilities, information systems compatibility, union contracts, unnecessary program overlap, and endowment allocation and restrictions.
The Task Force first met on November 9, 2006 and had originally been given nine months to produce a report assessing the potential for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the state’s premier research universities – Rutgers University, UMDNJ, and NJIT. With the deadline now extended, members of the task force are confident that they will have the time necessary to provide the most thorough examination of a complex issue with enormous long-term ramifications.