UMDNJ's decade of uncertainty comes to a close | Commentary | -- Your State. Your News.

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UMDNJ's decade of uncertainty comes to a close

health120711_optBY DR. KEVIN M. BARRY, MD and DR. DENISE V. RODGERS, MD

Today the UMDNJ Advisory Committee released its final recommendations on the restructuring of higher education in New Jersey. First, we thank the Advisory Committee members for their hard work and diligence in striving to recommend changes designed to strengthen higher education in the State. We acknowledge and appreciate the significant commitment of time and energy volunteered by the members of the committee.

With the issuance of this final report, we close a decade of uncertainty at UMDNJ. As noted in the Advisory Committee report, this extended period of structural uncertainty has impeded the recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff. We are focused on the future and will continue the complex financial and operational work of realigning all of our assets across the State into a highly focused and integrated new university of the health sciences. This final series of recommendations allows all of our students, faculty and staff to become fully engaged in planning and implementing the future success of our institution.

The Advisory Committee’s recommendation to change the name of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to the New Jersey Health Sciences University (NJHSU) is welcome. UMDNJ is a fundamentally improved institution that highly values accountability and ethical behavior. We hope that, moving forward, discussion and comments about the institution will reflect this reality. We thank the Committee for recognizing that the challenges of the past no longer define or constrain the future of this vital State institution. A re-branding at this time in our history symbolizes the successful emergence and transformation of the new UMDNJ. Equally important, we welcome the opportunity to have a name that reflects the broad spectrum of all the health professionals we educate.

The University expanded beyond medicine and dentistry in 1976, and with the proposed change we will now have a more inclusive name. The wide variety of programs offered in our schools, from Stratford to Newark, lays an ideal foundation for us to become national leaders in inter-professional education, research and patient care. We have also begun to expand our effective partnerships with the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. These will prove to be competitive advantages as we anticipate the future of health care delivery and the need for job creation and economic development.

Recognizing that each of our schools and clinical units possesses different strengths and potentials, we respectfully disagree with any unintended implication that any of our units should be more valued or given a greater degree of autonomy. We recognize our obligation to streamline administrative processes in order to facilitate the achievement of excellence and creativity in all of the schools and clinical units that make up the University. We must foster entrepreneurship and flexibility while forging a cohesive strategic plan and direction for the University as a whole.

Therefore, we commit to systematically evaluating our processes and developing more effective, efficient, and timely business practices. We will look to decentralize administrative functions throughout the University where appropriate. Of course, we will continue to foster a culture of compliance. The deans of all our schools, the President and CEO of University Behavioral HealthCare and the President and CEO of University Hospital (UH) fully support this approach. Indeed this process has already begun.

Comments (5)
5 Thursday, 26 January 2012 16:45
A View from Here
To read the advisory committee's report, and to listen to the Governor's press conference, it is apparent that political patronage on three levels: state, county and city significantly contributed to the failure of UMDNJ. They also emphasize that only strong leadership will now make it possible for this institution to be revitalized. But hiring of the mediocre and incompetent has continued apace. An affirmative action hire to be interim president, following a failed predecessor similarly hired; new departmental chairs proving to be immediately incompetent; an affable, well-connected new dean utterly lacking vision: none of these bode well. As NJ has learned, super-fund sites are hard to restore. Add UMDNJ to the list.
4 Thursday, 26 January 2012 15:49
Change is Good
It's unfortunate that there will be job loss for many individuals. Employees who have dedicated their life to the University and year of service. For many its a time to move on and start fresh,to seek new careers, business opportunities, return to school or for many just retire and allow other the opportunity for advancement or new employment.

May God Bless those employees who will be affected.
3 Thursday, 26 January 2012 07:26
I know many good people that work for the University and are potentially facing job loss. Going to work everyday is difficult with so much unknown. We have enough people unemployed. Do we need more?
2 Wednesday, 25 January 2012 23:08
A Rutgersman
The students and professors of the schools involved are mostly against the plan.
1 Wednesday, 25 January 2012 22:45
So, other than news of a name change, this article said a whole lot of NOTHING.

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