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UMDNJ President RESIGNS Abruptly After Approving Merger with Rutgers

William Owen's Last Day Will Be December 31, Six Months Before His Contract Ends
RWJMS Clinical Academic Building
UMDNJ's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School could change hands if a merger works out. Charlie Kratovil

NEWARK, NJ - Another one bites the dust.  William Owen Jr. resigned his position heading the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ, following the university's board of trustees meeting, where no signal was given of his departure.

Meanwhile, Rutgers is moving "full steam ahead" towards executing a merger of UMDNJ's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, School of Public Health, and Cancer Institute of NJ.  According to a recent article in the Newark Star-Ledger, Rutgers is moving towards an "aggressive" target date for the merger of July 1, 2012.

Owen's resignation comes just one month after he released a letter co-authored with Rutgers University's lame-duck President Richard McCormick.  The letter came as a major surprise, as it indicated a reversal of UMDNJ's long-held position against merging instantly elicited criticism from members of the board.

A longtime UMDNJ trustee responded to the letter by email, saying "The board, not yourself, is responsible to take positions on policy matters such as this." 

However, the board's chairman Kevin Barry stuck up for Owen at their November meeting, saying that Owen had not acted "unilaterally," according to the Newark Star-Ledger

Governor Christie's Task Force on Higher Education, chaired by former Gov. Thomas Kean, proposed the merger last year to mere a portion of UMDNJ's eight colleges with Rutgers.

Owen is the third NJ college President to resign this year.  McCormick resigned in April to return to the Rutgers faculty, and the New Jersey Institue of Technology's President resigned this September to take the top job at University of Alabama at Huntsville.

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