Sunday, July 28, 2013

Time Magazine Article on University Mergers

Time Magazine ran an article on recent university mergers and consolidations, describing the combinations as a trend that may continue as institutions are pressed for financial resources and leaders embrace business principles to maintain viability and achieve growth.

Johnson University, Florida Christian College Merge

Johnson University, in Knoxville and Florida Christian College, in Kissimmee, Fla., have merged to become part of the newly established Johnson University System. Florida Christian College is now Johnson University Florida. 

Rutgers Merger Celebrated in New Jersey

Leaders in New Jersey are celebrating the recent merger of Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie is touting the improved research status of the combined institution as well as its ability to be a driver for the local economy. Rutgers President Robert Barchi details the enhanced ability of the new institution to better recruit students and faculty, as well as its status nationally among research institutions.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rutgers Merger Takes Effect

Today marks the merger of Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a combination that some are calling the largest merger in the history of American higher education. Benefits outlined by the university include a broader scope of academic programs for students, strengthened community partnerships, especially in health care, and new economic opportunities for New Jersey businesses and residents.

The size of the merger is massive when considering the financial implications: a $1.4 billion medical school merging with a $2.3 billion research university. Many administrative, financial academic and other operations will need to be combined and streamlined as the merger progresses.

Aside from administrative functions, also to be observed is the human element. As the Rutgers merger was initiated by the governor and the legislature, not the institutions themselves, university constituent buy-in may not be as high as at other institutions that initiated their own mergers. While many may recognize the merger as being opportunistic or beneficial overall (particularly in the long-run, after the lengthy integration process), it remains given the political impetus that the merger was something done "to" Rutgers, not "by" Rutgers. Anytime change is forced upon an organization it is not as well-received as when the cause for change happens from within. How smoothly will this process go and how quickly and thoroughly will a new brand for the combined institution be adopted and accepted by university constituents?

Also to be observed from the Rutgers merger - who is watching? No doubt many higher education observers across the United States. It has been well-documented that the top research institutions across the country (especially public universities) are affiliated with medical schools. And that medical schools benefit from being attached to comprehensive universities. It is likely that the trend for freestanding medical, law and other professional schools merging with comprehensive universities will continue. What institutions will consider merger next?