By Kelly Heyboer/ The Star-Ledger
NEW BRUNSWICK — Rutgers University’s governing board approved the merger of its nursing schools today over the objections of union members who said the consolidation was poorly planned and could lead to layoffs.
The merger creates a new Rutgers School of Nursing, effective July 1. The school combines the Rutgers College of Nursing in Newark and New Brunswick with nursing programs in Newark that once belonged to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Rutgers took over most of UMDNJ’s schools after that university was dissolved last summer.
Before the board’s unanimous vote during its meeting in New Brunswick, Rutgers union officials said they could not support the move. They complained the plan to merge the schools was not discussed with union members and university officials had done little to study how the consolidation would impact faculty and staff.
“To not know what the impact is of combining two schools at Rutgers University is appalling,” said Patrick Nowlan, executive director of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the faculty union.
Union officials also called for extending a guarantee in state law that no Rutgers employees will lose their jobs because of the UMDNJ merger until after July 1.
“Our folks have been left out of the loop. They have been frightened,” said Lucye Millerand, president of the Union of Rutgers Administrators-AFT, the staff union. “We urge you to extend the job security provisions until July 2015.”
Strom, the chancellor overseeing the health science schools, said the university hopes the merger will reduce costs over the long term and eliminate duplication of jobs. But there are also plans to expand the nursing programs.
“There could be hiring as well as layoffs,” Strom said.