Maintain Independent Governance & Autonomy

In revising its statewide governance structure for higher education, New Jersey must maintain an equilibrium between institutional autonomy that encourages entrepreneurship and state oversight to protect taxpayer investment. To accomplish this dual goal, the task force made several significant recommendations.

State Oversight

To provide higher education with a powerful voice in Trenton and ensure appropriate state oversight, the task force recommends that the state:

  • Appoint a secretary of higher education who would report to the governor and serve as a spokesperson and policy leader for New Jersey’s higher education community.
  • Appoint a Governor’s Higher Education Council to serve as an oversight and coordinating body. On January 4, 2011, Governor Christie signed an executive order establishing this council.
  • Maintain the Presidents’ Council in its current form but eliminate the Commission on Higher Education.

Institutional Governance

The task force report unequivocally supports strong autonomous institutions managing their own affairs, including the authority to set their own tuition, and recommends:

  • “The State should recognize and respect the unique relationship it has with Rutgers and the other senior public colleges and universities by continuing to give these institutions a high degree of self-governance, and ensuring that the governance and conduct of the institutions shall be free of partisanship.”
  • “Rutgers must continue to have strong, independent institutional governance. Its complicated governing structure, however, should be reviewed and streamlined if possible, with due respect to the principles of the 1956 Compact.”

Additional Recommendations

  • “To make rules regarding personnel consistent among Rutgers and the other public colleges and universities, the legislature should pass Governor Chrisie’s took-kit bills that would reform workers compensation, collective bargaining, and civil service at the state colleges and universities.”
  •  “Going forward, the State should pay for any mandates imposed on New Jersey’s colleges and universities.”
  • “All institutions should be challenged to identify peer and aspirational institutions, select relevant metrics regarding missions for comparison, and publish the results annually on the websites.”
  • “Policies hindering the competitiveness of New Jersey’s colleges and universities should be eliminated, such as those affecting salaries and benefits at Rutgers and other senior public colleges and universities.”