BY TOM HESTER SR.
The state University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey would undergo a major transformation that would refocus the institution on its Newark-based schools and would grant a significant level of autonomy to three of the medical school’s wings under recommendations approved Wednesday by Gov. Chris Christie.
The UMDNJ recommendations are included in a report of the UMDNJ Advisory Committee, which the governor called a blueprint to achieve long-overdue reform of the state’s higher education system and usher in a new era for medical education throughout New Jersey.
Christie said the final recommendations offered by the committee will ensure that the state meets its potential as a national leader in medical education and biomedical research, increase the collaboration and innovation between the universities and New Jersey’s research based industries. The recommendations build on the committee’s September 2011 interim report.
“Ensuring that New Jersey’s higher education community delivers world-class medical education and training to students is a long-term imperative of our state that has been ignored for too long,” the governor said at a Statehouse press conference. “These recommendations finally provide an innovative and bold blueprint to transform the structure of our public medical and health science schools for a secure and successful future.” He added, “I am proud to stand behind these recommendations which will serve as my administration’s guide to strengthen and elevate medical education in New Jersey.”
By providing significant levels of autonomy to the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, and University Behavioral Health Care in Piscataway, as well as to the Public Health Research Institute in Newark, Christie said UMDNJ will be able to focus on the success of its primary academic units in Newark and achieve a streamlined bureaucracy. The governor said the autonomy would allow New Jersey taxpayers to get the most from the investment they make into medical education in Newark.
For the future of University Hospital in Newark, the committee recommends a long-term public-private partnership for the hospital’s management to allow for its continued role as a Level One Trauma Center and a hub of medical care for the Newark community, enabling the continuation of medical programs, increased efficiency in operations and investment in capital improvements.
The committee also recommended to fully integrate Rowan University and Rutgers University–Camden into a broader institution, known as Rowan University and based in Glassboro and Camden. Through this integration, the committee recommends the proposed institution be positioned for public research university status. The committee found this change will both support the development of Rowan’s new medical school and provide an enhanced academic and health care education and delivery system that would bolster the regional economy.