New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week announced 10 professionals who will help advise his administration on ways to reform the state’s higher education system and make it more competitive.

Five members each will serve on the Governor’s Higher Education Council and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Advisory Committee.

John McGoldrick, chairman of Zimmer Holdings Inc., which manufactures orthopedic reconstructive products, will chair the Higher Education Council.

Sol Barer, executive chairman of Celgene, a biotechnology company, will chair the UMDNJ Advisory Committee.

The Higher Education Council will consult the Republican governor on university and college matters overall and on initiatives for the state’s higher educational system.

The UMDNJ Advisory Committee will analyze graduate medical education. It will look at whether UMDNJ’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the School of Public Health should merge with Rutgers University, as well as gauge potential mergers of UMDNJ’s other programs, a possible combining of various public nursing schools, and whether the New Jersey Institute of Technology should start its own medical school.

The two panels are a result of a report issued in early January by the Higher Education Task Force, headed by Republican former Gov. Tom Kean.

That report recommended that New Jersey issue $2.7 billion of general obligation bonds to help address a backlog of infrastructure needs at public universities and colleges.

It also suggested that the state issue debt to create a permanent revolving bond fund for its 12 public universities and private institutions.

Christie has said that New Jersey currently cannot issue such a large amount of debt. He anticipates the two new panels will help the state attract students and improve its higher educational system overall.

“These two important bodies will provide my administration with recommendations, ongoing guidance for the long-term needs of higher education and the unique challenges facing graduate medical education,” Christie said in a statement.

“I want to thank the 10 individuals for agreeing to serve,” he said. “They each have demonstrated a strong commitment to our state’s higher education system and are working to ensure that the state is known for our educational excellence.”

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