Peaceful Transition Marks Rutgers-UMDNJ Restructuring

Rutgers assumes control of most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, but financial issues and other questions remain to be resolved

By Colleen O’Dea

Rutgers University’s governing boards on Monday agreed to take control of most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, with no dissent and none of the vitriol that marked the debate over the restructuring of higher education in the first half of the year.

However, the resolution approved by the board of governors and board of trustees does contain five conditions, including two that primarily deal with the financial health and stability of University Hospital. The Newark facility will remain the primary teaching hospital for UMDNJ’s Newark medical schools that are being transferred to Rutgers.

The restructuring accepted during a joint meeting of the two boards, little resembled the initial plan put forth this past January by a gubernatorial commission headed by Sol Barer, who is also a Rutgers trustee, and endorsed by Gov. Chris Christie. Under that plan, Rutgers would have received only three units from UMDNJ and would have had to give its Camden campus to Rowan University in Glassboro. UMDNJ would have remained a smaller medical university with its own hospital.

Ultimately, the united and vocal opposition from students, faculty, staff, and alumni in Camden, and from some of Rutgers’ trustees, led to last-minute revisions in Trenton. The resultant law not only kept the Camden campus as part of Rutgers, but also has the university absorbing all of UMDNJ except its School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) and University Hospital. Getting the medical, denta,l and nursing schools closes a circle for Rutgers, which had a medical facility until the 1970s, when UMDNJ was created.