Then-Gov. Christie Whitman scrapped the chancellor's job and the entire state Department of Higher Education more than 20 years ago to allow individual colleges the freedom to run their own campuses.
Is it time for New Jersey to bring back the chancellor post?
That is one of the questions raised in a report released October 16 by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal-learning Trenton think tank.
Over the last few decades, tuition and student debt has risen at New Jersey colleges and universities and higher education in no longer a front-burner issue in Trenton, said Gordon MacInnes, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective and author of the report.
"We've experienced decades of neglect," MacInnes said. "The consequences on New Jersey families is substantial and negative."
Rochelle Hendricks, the current Secretary of Higher Education under Gov. Chris Christie, has a small staff, a small budget and limited power to make changes to the state's higher education system.
The major party candidates running for governor —Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Kim Guadagno — have not said they would bring back a powerful department of higher education, if elected.
However, Murphy has introduced a plan to invest more money in higher education and make tuition to New Jersey's two-year county colleges free for students.
Guadagno's campaign has blasted the plan, saying it would increase taxes for New Jersey taxpayers.
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