By Mike DeNardo

GLASSBORO, N.J. (CBS) — Administrators, students, and alumni on both sides of the issue of the Rutgers-Camden and Rowan merger proposal were sounding off at a legislative hearing today at Rowan University in Glassboro.

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The higher education committees of the New Jersey assembly and state senate got an earful on the highly charged proposal to have Rowan take over Rutgers University’s Camden campus.

John Sheridan, CEO of Cooper Health System, says combining the two would create a stronger university to keep the best and brightest.

“The question for South Jersey is, do we reject this once-in-a-generation opportunity in favor of the status quo, or do we embrace the committee’s visionary plan and move forward?” he said.

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But Rutgers-Camden chancellor Wendell Pritchett told the committee that grant funding for current Rutgers programs would dissappear in a combined school.

“Maintaining the status quo is not an option. At the same time, removing opportunity and options from our region and forcing the dissolution of Rutgers-Camden into Rowan will set these plans back by decades,” he said.

(NJ Sen. Steve Sweeney. Credit: Mike DeNardo)

State senate president Steve Sweeney (right) said the merger proposal is difficult to debate because right now it’s only an idea, with more questions than answers.

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