Amend Senate bill S2063: Merge UMDNJ-SOM with Rutgers
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1) Many students conduct research in the Science Center at SOM, and publishing data requires both quality data as well as a strong research pedigree. UMDNJ has this pedigree, Rutgers does as well (even more so with the acquisition of our sister campuses), however Rowan does not. This sentiment has been shared by much of the graduate faculty. Impeding research at SOM will hurt SOM as whole. For example, this past year Dr. Nagele of SOM developed a early detection screening for those at risk for Alzheimer's Disease. With his resources and the SOM and UMDNJ pedigree, his work is well known and well regarded. In return, Dr. Nagele's work, along with the many other researchers at SOM, has helped rebuild the image of UMDNJ as a whole and brought in valuable research dollars to the University, along with increasing the respect of our institution.
2) The risk of losing accreditation for SOM is very much present. Since last week's meeting pushed the bill through committee without proposing the budget or thoroughly hashing out the legal aspects of the transfer, it has been stated that a temporary loss of accreditation for SOM may result. This risk is disastrous because students will either have to try to transfer to another medical institution or be left out to dry. I'm also concerned how this will affect SOM’s incoming class, how many great students are secretly deferring to another school, which is quite common at less reputable schools, and will jump ship when this bill becomes more certain? The meeting on 6/18 has changed few aspects of the bill. Even pushing the restructuring back one year to July 2013 is only casting off today's problems to tomorrow. The budget issues will not go away, and to ask Rutgers and Rowan to defray the cost of the merger will place undue strain on these universities, and will most likely result in increased tuition. Furthermore, the bill was altered to appease Essex County legislators by sweetening the deal for them. Camden County was not shown the same respect. The changes that Camden County residents prefer (in addition to the students that cast votes in other counties based on their permanent residence), were not taken into account.
3) The name change for SOM and the separation from its sister campuses at UMDNJ degrades our reputation. At present, SOM is in the top three osteopathic medical schools in the nation. Losing it’s name and character during the Rowan merge, even superficially, will affect current students in the residency matching process after graduation, and affect the quality of the students that apply in future years. Both of these outcomes will lead to disastrous results for New Jersey healthcare that would be felt for years to come.
4) Loss of the Graduate School of the Biological Sciences. Under this plan the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) will be lost. This program consistently made money for the school and shuttled effective students into SOM. In an online ranking, GSBS is considered one of the stronger and more affordable programs in the country.
5) Rowan has yet to prove for that it would be able to handle the load the merger would place upon itself. Rowan has just built an allopathic medical school set to open its doors to its very first class this fall. Furthermore, under the current bill, Rowan will acquire Rutgers Camden and its population of 4000+ students as well. Rutgers Camden is a research institution which again, Rowan is unprepared to manage at this time, as evidenced through the fact that Rowan has never managed to become a strong research institution. I find any claims that Rowan will be able to deal with the intricacies of running their medical school first year, integrating Rutgers Camden, and administering SOM in a way that doesn't strongly negatively impact SOM extremely doubtful. You cannot push forward a bill that will undermine the years of hard work put in by SOM in order to bolster Rowan University.
These concerns felt by many students and faculty at UMDNJ SOM should be considered seriously. As a citizen of New Jersey, I believe this proposed restructuring, as it stands, will have a disastrous effect on New Jersey healthcare and medical education. In all, it may be easier to merge SOM with Rowan on pure geographic reasons. However, we should not punish students and faculty by taking the path with the least resistance. Merging with the rest of UMDNJ into Rutgers buffers and protects RWJMS and NJMS, while leaving SOM out to dry with an institution that has not proven itself capable of handling these loads. In time, Rowan will develop into a strong research institution and competitive medical school, however, I ask that you not take a chance with SOM. SOM has proven itself to be a strong part of the UMDNJ system, and the gem of South Jersey, and it would undermine the progress made by the students and faculty to merge SOM with Rowan. My suggestion is to keep all of the UMDNJ entities together and merge them with Rutgers, a university that has proven that it can manage institutions all across the state and already has strong research credentials.
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