September 20, 2018 | ° F

UMDNJ integration begins with facilities, administration team

Signage, public safety considered in steps toward creating ‘Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences’

After months of debate, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is set to integrate with Rutgers University on July 1, 2013 — a move that will expand the Rutgers brand across the state.

The various schools and institutes that once belonged to UMDNJ will take on the University’s name with the newly developed Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences branch.

The School of Biomedical and Health Sciences will encompass seven UMDNJ units including the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and UMDNJ School of Public Health, along with the University’s School of Nursing, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, and the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research.

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, one of the nation’s 41 Comprehensive Cancer Centers as designated by the National Cancer Institute, will also join the University.

Greg Trevor, a University spokesman, said the institute will become part of a larger body, while maintaining its autonomy within the system.

“I think it will help academically,” said Tony Calcado, vice president for facilities and capital planning at the University. “It makes a stronger university. I think it creates more opportunity for students in New Jersey. It has a lot of upsides for both institutions.”

Calcado is not alone in his feeling, as Gov. Chris Christie also said this integration can benefit the University.

“Rutgers was already an outstanding institution,” Christie said this past summer after signing the integration bill at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus. “Now, it’s going to be a powerhouse.”

Though integration is definitely worth the effort, it is not an easy task, Calcado said. Getting two different institutions to function as one unit requires some serious effort, which is why a team was specifically assembled to help facilitate the process.

“We’re looking at the two universities to figure out how to best deliver all of these services over time,” said Calcado, who heads the Facilities and Administration Functional Team. “We try to understand. We look at the policies, we look at the procedures and we look at how things are actually being done.”

The team aims to integrate operations with a focus on real estate, public safety and code enforcement. This will include adjusting access control system and signage, Calcado said.

“From the physical infrastructure to land use to facilities services agreements, the Facilities and Administration Team will have to work hard to ensure that good solutions are implemented,” said David Schulz, interim vice president for Administration at UMDNJ, in a statement. “Team members embrace the challenge.”

Though the team will cover a lot of ground, it is just one of 12 teams working on integrating various aspects of both universities in time for the deadline, Calcado said.

“This is a true formula,” Calcado said. “All the teams are necessary because what you’re trying to accomplish through the merger is the strongest possible institution you can come out with. We’re combining our efforts here. You need to break this down into manageable pieces.”

A bigger school means more spending — and with the current economy, it might be difficult to develop the institution much further.

The Building Our Future Bond Act, which would provide institutions of higher education in New Jersey with $750 million for construction, might just make things a little easier. The University stands to see $300 million as it is a major research university, according to the UMDNJ website.

Whether or not this act gets passed is ultimately up to voters. A statewide coalition called Building Our Future has been working to raise awareness and encourage students to let their voices be heard on the Election Day ballot.

Modernizing higher education’s infrastructure will ultimately help the United States compete with countries like India, China and Japan, according to the UMDNJ website.

While implementing the integration could cause programs and curricula to change over time, Trevor, senior director of University Media Relations, said current students should not be concerned. Faculty, class size, physical location and facilities should stay the same for now, he said.

“We expect that current and future students will be unaffected as a result of the integration of these two universities,” Trevor said.

By Lisa Berkman

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