The new Rowan and Rutgers-Camden board of governors appointed its president and vice president at its first meeting last week as it looks to build up Camden’s health science facilities. The board will oversee the partnership between the two universities and any new programs that emerge from it.
The appointments, announced on April 7, solidified the board created in 2012 by the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act, the same act that established Rowan as a research institution, according to a Rutgers-Camden press release.
Originally, a merger between Rowan and Rutgers-Camden was proposed but shut down after many people spoke out against it. A bill on Change.org titled “Stop the Rutgers-Camden to Rowan Merger” received over 13,000 signatures. The universities compromised and agreed on a partnership in the health science field rather than a full merger. Part of the partnership required appointing a board to oversee the joint health science programs as well as any new projects or purchases made for the programs.
Jack Collins, former speaker of the general assembly, was appointed board president, and Louis S. Bezich, Cooper’s chief of staff to the president and executive director, was appointed vice president. Five others serve on the board, including Camden mayor Dana Redd and Gloucester County administrator Chad Bruner.
“This is a very unique partnership,” said Joe Cardona, vice president for university relations. “This board of governors is tasked with facilitating conversations between Rowan and Rutgers on how to develop new [graduate] programs.”
The partnership is another addition to Camden’s education and medical area in the downtown area of the city where Cooper University Hospital and Coriell Institute for Medical Research are located. From the start of this partnership, officials have expressed hope that Camden can become a hub for medical science research.
“You have this nice unique mix of ‘eds and meds,’ and from there you’ll have more programs and more grad students coming in,” Cardona said.
In the long term, Cardona is hopeful that the research institutions can play a part in boosting the economy of Camden and South Jersey.
“When you start working with companies, they want to locate themselves near the job pool where students are and near places that can help them with their research,” Cardona said.
For the short term, people from both schools are excited about what the partnership can bring.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Michael Sepanic, associate chancellor for external relations at Rutgers-Camden. “We’re really looking forward to continuing our work, as Rowan continues their work, and finding ways for us to collaborate on research that would benefit health sciences.”
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