Joel S. Bloom
Monday, February 6, 2012
The final UMDNJ Advisory Committee Report was issued on January 25th with the endorsement of the Governor and a statement to move forward with the implementation of its recommendations. With regard to NJIT, we achieved the desired outcomes that we sought over the past three months: reaffirmation of autonomy, recognition of NJIT’s quality, and the recommended tactic to collaborate in the converging areas of engineering, technology and the life sciences. Some excerpts from the 51 page report about NJIT include:
Regarding the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Committee affirms its Interim Report recommendation that the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) remains constituted as it is today. The Committee commends the current leadership of NJIT for recently withdrawing its application to the State Board of Medical Examiner and for its commitment to increasing the strength of the university’s core programs and collaboration among Newark-based institutions.
In the Committee’s view, NJIT is a unique, important member in New Jersey’s roster of public higher education assets. The leadership of this significant institution should continue to nurture this important role. NJIT should focus its efforts on refining what it already does well and avoid expansions that dilute it academic training and workforce development in the critical fields of engineering, computer science, architecture and other technology-based academic areas.
Newark is in some respects a college town…The city attracts talented students and accomplished innovative faculty. The existing educational infrastructure should be able to do even more to help the city and region with its economic development objectives and to provide intellectual, problem-solving leadership…those affiliated with these institutions might come together, as permanent anchors and intellectual leaders in the city, to greatly affect Newark’s future in many positive ways.
The Committee’s view is that this collaboration must be academic and research driven…that there is the capacity…for much more extensive academic, research and clinical collaboration between and among the city’s institutions of higher education as well as other important institutions-public and private-in the area.
Such collaboration will retain existing institutional autonomy in Newark while allowing for enhanced interactions in teaching and research among the key institutions’ faculty and students. Such collaboration enhance the leverage of all participating institutions through a sharing of human and physical resource and a more robust capacity to exploit collaborations among researchers and key New Jersey industries-opening a potentially sustainable pathway to commercialization of innovation while also providing the maximum opportunity for students in the city to benefit fully from the substantial public investments in higher education in Newark.
To make this pursuit successful, strategic leadership must be exerted not only at the university and college level but also from policy makers in Trenton. New Jersey must consider how to incentivize new and existing collaboration through policy decision, such as target investment for specific research and development initiatives.
The following statements summarize the Committees recommendations about the UMDNJ reorganization that significantly impacts NJIT:
- The creation of the New Jersey Health Sciences University (NJHSU), including the New Jersey Medical School, the New Jersey Dental School, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Nursing and the School of Health Related Professionals. The University Behavioral Health Care, the School of Osteopathic Medicine and The Public Health Research Institute would also be included under the NJHSU banner with significantly increased autonomy;
- An expansion of Rowan University to include: Rowan University, Glassboro; the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Camden; Rutgers University-Camden, Rutgers University School of Law-Camden; and Rutgers University School of Business- Camden; and
- A realignment of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, School of Public Health and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey in Central Jersey into Rutgers University.
The Committee’s report and the Governor’s endorsement and desire to proceed with implementation could be affected by several factors, e.g., actions of the respective university trustee boards and/or the legislature. Notwithstanding these possibilities, we need to anticipate its implementation and be cognizant of the following challenges and opportunities.
- Historically, there have been three NJ research universities. Often there was a dedicated allocation of state resources to its research universities. Rowan will be a fourth research university.
- NJIT has been developing its premedical and life sciences programs, and bio-related majors, recruiting excellent faculty and very high achieving students with the assistance of articulated medical and life sciences graduate programs, particularly with UMDNJ. However, the programs have been very limited. Both Rutgers New Brunswick and Rowan will have medical schools and life sciences programs that could prove highly attractive to these kinds of faculty and students who have contributed much to the growth of the academic reputation of NJIT.
- “Collaboration,” is the recommendation for the growth of the Newark based institutions of higher education. This is the policy position that NJIT proffered in order to maintain its autonomy and to stand alongside the nation’s other institutes of technology. Therefore, we have the opportunity to offer proof of well-structured collaborations yielding the results discussed in the report.
To proceed on the above third point, I have had and will continue discussions with the President of UMDNJ, Denise Rodgers. In the very near future, we anticipate including others from our universities to consider collaborations for joint admissions, appointments, degree and clinical programs, and grant applications, leading to innovation and commercialization.
I anticipate that the collaboration with UMDNJ will be closely intertwined to our response to the NJ Strategic Plan. A related activity during the past couple of months has been to reinvigorate Science Park Board to serve as another important vehicle for collaboration among the Newark higher education institutions, business, public schools, and the community. Last week, I assumed the chair of the Science Park Board, and President Rodgers will serve as the vice-chair. Finally, we continue to meet with state and legislative leadership in order for NJIT to be recognized for its achievements and capacity.
I look forward to the upcoming Community Forums to further discuss these and other challenges and opportunities.