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UMDNJ Integration to go into effect July 1

On July 1, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey will officially merge with the University.

The various schools and institutes that once belonged to UMDNJ will take on the University’s name with a 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 UMDNJ campus in Newark will be known as the Rutgers Health Sciences Campus at Newark.

But UMDNJ’s University Hospital will become a freestanding institution and the School of     Osteopathic Medicine will transfer to Rowan University.

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill last August approving of the new reconstruction.

Rochelle Hendricks, the state’s secretary of higher education, said this bill has been a long time in the making.

“This restructuring will help New Jersey win its fair share of research funding that has far too long eluded us from going elsewhere,” Hendricks said. “The governor has demonstrated that he is a champion of higher education, and I thank Gov. Christie.”

Christie believes the merger coincides with the University’s mission to serve as an affordable way for students to earn degrees.

“Rutgers represents opportunity and equality for everybody in the state. … And now it has the opportunity to become bigger and stronger in terms of the influence it will have on the state’s business community [and] science community,” he said.

Although many were unreceptive to the merger idea first — mainly because the original bill proposed the University would have to surrender its Camden campus to Rowan — change is something that has to happen for progress, said Stephen Sweeney, N.J. Senate president.

But the integration will not come cheap. The expenditures of the takeover could cost the University up to $75 million, in addition to absorbing UMDNJ’s $456 million in debt, said University President Robert L. Barchi.

But Barchi is confident the boards can refinance and restructure that debt and assure that the integration’s benefits outweigh the costs.

“We consider this to be the cost of doing business for a one-time operational opportunity that won’t come again,” he said. “It’s a significant cost. ... But insignificant for an opportunity for the future.”

University Hospital also holds $116.9 million in outstanding debt, and although Barchi said this legislation is in the hands of the state, many fear that the state will push the debt onto the       University if it cannot come up with proper funding.

Faculty from Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden also voted on a resolution in January supporting the joining of their two law schools, said Rayman Solomon, dean of the Rutgers School of Law in Camden.

Now that the Board of Governors and Barchi have given both schools an informal nod of approval, the faculty committee will move ahead with merger plans, said Ronald Chen, vice dean of Rutgers-Newark School of Law.

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