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Rutgers names negotiation team to reshape merger legislation

Rutgers University on Monday announced the team of board members that will help negotiate with lawmakers on sweeping legislation to realign Rutgers, Rowan University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Rutgers University on Monday announced the team of board members that will help negotiate with lawmakers on sweeping legislation to realign Rutgers, Rowan University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

The team includes governors Gerald C. Harvey and Candace L. Straight, and trustees Dudley H. Rivers Jr., Lora L. Fong and Robert E. Mortensen, according to Greg Trevor, a Rutgers spokesman. Harvey and Rivers are the vice chairs of their respective boards.

Harvey is of counsel at Marcus Brody, a Roseland-based law firm. Harvey’s bio on the firm’s website says he has more than 30 years experience in arbitration, with a special emphasis on corporate and labor arbitration, and in commercial transactions. He previously served as general counsel of Breeze-Eastern Corp.

Straight is an investment banking consultant specializing in the insurance industry, who has worked for numerous corporations, including Merck & Co. Inc. and Bankers Trust Co., according to a Rutgers release in 2011 when she was inducted to the Rutgers board. Straight also served on Gov. Chris Christie’s Treasury transition team.

According to a 2010 Rutgers release, Rivers was the controller, Global Financial Services at Johnson & Johnson.

Fong is managing counsel at Salesforce.com and was previously an attorney at Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis LLP, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Mortensen worked for Conrail for 30 years and other rail organizations. He is a 2005 member of Rutgers’ Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

“The boards have named a team to assist the boards’ negotiating efforts,” Trevor wrote in an e-mail. He said the team also will include professional staff and administrators from all three Rutgers campuses.

Both boards on June 6 approved a set of principles affirming they will work to establish a collaborative agreement with Rowan University, as long as Rutgers-Camden maintains its autonomous status and any collaborative “mechanisms” are approved by both universities and the governing boards of Rutgers. The principles also included an agreement to merge with UMDNJ, as long as the state provides adequate funding for integration and any deficits incurred during the reorganization. The boards also agreed to form the negotiating team, of which members’ names were announced today.

Shortly after the principles were approved last week, leading Assembly Democrats announced they would introduce legislation mirroring the bill proposed by Senate Democrats to restructure the state’s higher education landscape. The Senate bill would make sweeping changes, including a new governance structure for Rutgers-Camden that would seem to violate the set of principles approved by the Rutgers boards June 6.

Ralph Izzo, chairman of Rutgers’ board of governors, said last week “the path of least resistance would be to follow” the principles established by the Rutgers boards. If that path can’t be followed, a discussion needs to occur to determine if the principles are acceptable, said Izzo, also president and CEO of PSEG.

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