A question-and-answer event drew hundreds, many clad in Rutgers red and bearing signs declaring "Save Rutgers-Camden."
"Let me be clear about this, I am opposed to the takeover of my campus, of our campus," Pritchett said at the meeting.
"I agree South Jersey and our campus needs more resources. I want to applaud the committee for recognizing that, but not this way," he added, referring to the governor's higher-education task force.
Last week Christie announced plans to overhaul the state's higher education system, moving assets among Rutgers, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Rowan with the aim of creating what he said would be a stronger public university system that could rival those in other states.
"Rutgers is good, but not great," he said of the university, which has campuses in Newark, New Brunswick, and Camden.
The proposal for South Jersey involves merging Rutgers-Camden into Glassboro-based Rowan 20 miles away, creating a split campus that would include a law school, two business schools, and the soon-to-open Rowan Cooper Medical School in Camden.
The concept is to create a top-ranked research university that would both expand the historically low number of higher education seats in the region and create an institution that could attract biotech and pharmaceutical companies to the region.
But among the 6,000 students at Rutgers-Camden, the prospect of leaving the Rutgers system after more than 60 years has proved to be widely unpopular.
Student groups are planning to travel to Trenton on Monday to protest.
The university's alumni association staffed a table on campus Thursday instructing students to contact the university's boards of governors and trustees, who under state law have authority to block the proposal, according to Rutgers.
Much of the opposition in Camden revolves around losing the Rutgers name.
"It's like an executive at Procter and Gamble saying we should change the name of Crest and Tide today. They would be asked to hand in their resignation at the end of that day," said Steve Geonnotti, a Rutgers alum who attended Thursday's event.
Contact staff writer James Osborne at 856-779-3876 or firstname.lastname@example.org.