It was graduation day Thursday at Rutgers University-Camden as hundreds of students received diplomas as family and friends watched on.
The class of 1,654 graduates all got their chance to walk across the stage at the Susquehanna Bank Center or on campus as they received degrees in business, nursing, law, arts and sciences.
But with the future of the downtown Camden campus still uncertain, the question as to whether this could be the school’s final graduation as part of the Rutgers system put a bittersweet cloud over the proceedings.
A proposed reshuffling of New Jersey’s universities by Gov. Chris Christie would take the Rutgers-Camden campus and make it part of the Rowan University system -- stripping the campus of the more prestigious “Rutgers” name and taking rutgers out of South Jersey entirely.
Rutgers-Camden students, faculty and alumni mostly oppose the merger, as does Rutgers' Board of Trustees. They object to losing the respected Rutgers identity and say there would be problems in combining a campus of a research university with a state university that's primarily a teaching university.
Christie has not signed off yet on any plan as details continue to be hashed out by a group of lawmakers and higher education officials.
Earlier this week a compromise was proposed that would keep the Rutgers name in Camden.
Rutgers-Camden Chancellor Wendell Pritchett said in a statement Monday that the plan would give his campus more administrative and budgetary autonomy from Rutgers' main campus in New Brunswick. The school also would “engage in a deep and meaningful partnership with Rowan University,” Pritchett said.
NBC10 is at the graduations today talking to 2012 graduates who hope that they aren't the final graduating class at Rutgers-Camden.
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