The Commission was charged with examining and making recommendations concerning “the quality of medical and allied healthcare education within the State of New Jersey,” determining an appropriate governance structure for public medical and allied healthcare education in New Jersey, and determining any “prospective institutional alliances and/or relationships between these schools” (from Executive Order #14).
To accomplish the charge of the Commission, the report recommends consideration of a new structure for New Jersey’s state research universities involved in scientific and technological education and research. The proposal provides for geographically distinct campuses operating under a system of what can be called “managed autonomy” in Newark, Camden/Stratford and New Brunswick/Piscataway.
Q. Will the report’s proposals be implemented?
That is not clear yet. Discussion will take place among higher education, community, and government leaders to determine whether the Commission’s proposed structure should be pursued, or whether continued strengthening of existing partnerships and strategic alliances among the research universities would better fit the needs of Newark and New Jersey.
If a state of New Jersey research university system is created with autonomous campuses, as the Commission proposes, then we anticipate that the Newark campus would focus on science, medicine, and technology. Such an institution would leverage existing strengths in Newark among the applied physical, mathematical, computing, and engineering sciences with the biological, biomedical sciences, and medicine. Coupling this with existing strengths in the liberal arts and social sciences in Newark-based programs would set the stage for establishing a major setting of academic excellence with national stature.
Q. How is NJIT involved?
The primary focus of the report was not on NJIT. It was about how existing resources are being used today, and how they could be structured to advance health training, science and technology better in New Jersey’s public system of higher education in the future. However, NJIT’s unique resources, mission and academic reputation make it an appropriate and significant partner in this dialogue, and it is prepared to play a central role in the establishment of a forward-oriented, comprehensive center of a academic and research excellence in Newark.
Q. Will NJIT be lost if New Jersey’s higher education system is restructured?
It might be changed and enhanced, and it is possible that a new name could be adopted in the future. However, NJIT’s unique role in New Jersey is recognized by the panel that wrote the Commission’s report. The importance of achieving synergies between research universities and industry is well understood: some of New Jersey’s largest economic sectors are highly research-intensive, and depend on cooperation between academia, particularly its research efforts, and industry.
NJIT’s record of working in partnership with industry is very strong and well established. NJIT intends to continue its major role in making New Jersey a national leader in applied technologies, including those in the medical and healthcare sciences, and to bring focus within a comprehensive scientific, technological, and medical research university should such a structure emerge in Newark. This would represent an expansion of NJIT’s culture and tradition of growth, innovation and service to the students, industry and economy of New Jersey.
Q. What stage of the process are we at right now?
The process has only just begun. The report was issued on October 14; its recommendations are now subject to public discussion and debate.
Q. Does NJIT have a formal reaction to the report?
The Commission is to be credited for recommending policy to promote progress in health training, science and technology in higher education and industry in New Jersey. The distinguished panel that produced the report looked to successful models as they evolved in other states, and to New Jersey’s own strengths and higher education needs.
The recommendations are thoughtful and worth consideration. With the right leadership, primarily one established in technology, the proposed structure would provide an opportunity to leverage the convergence of engineering and the biological sciences currently underway, and would have the potential to preserve and strengthen higher education and human resource assets in Newark. However, we are now just at the beginning of what has the potential to be a productive and beneficial dialogue of such a structure.
Q. Will students who enroll at NJIT as a freshman in September of 2003, receive an NJIT degree?
Yes, NJIT degrees will continue to be awarded to all who enroll as freshmen at NJIT. Should a new structure be ultimately established, given NJIT’s national reputation for excellence, its name and degree granting authority may be continued within the new structure. In either case, we will ensure that those who enter in the fall of 2003 receive an NJIT degree upon graduation.
Q. NJIT is known for its academic reputation, small classes, easily accessible campus and quality service. Are these expected to change in the future?
No, given the science, technology, engineering, computing, architecture, and mathematics focus of NJIT, best practice dictates that a quality faculty interacts best with students in small classes. This would be continued, along with our user friendly, easily traversed campus, whether going from the parking deck to class, or from class to our new dining facilities and back to a residence hall.
Q. What impact would a proposed new structure have on the athletic program?
NJIT and Rutgers-Newark both field intercollegiate athletic teams in a variety of areas, including men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, volleyball and tennis. Both institutions also offer men’s baseball. In addition, NJIT has men’s and women’s swimming teams and Rutgers-Newark has women’s softball. UMDNJ does not field intercollegiate athletic teams. Should there be a new structure, the athletic programs would likely be strengthened, thereby providing students with better facilities and greater opportunities for recreational, intramural and intercollegiate athletics.
Q. What will happen in the coming months?
The focus will be on discussions and debate on the recommended development of a new organizational structure for New Jersey’s autonomous public research universities. These discussions will be public, and NJIT fully intends to be an important party to them. NJIT’s focus, as always, will be on advancing its mission by serving its students, generating new grant and other funding resources, strengthening its high quality programs, promoting its entrepreneurial spirit, expanding its nationally ranked research initiatives, contributing to economic growth and quality of life for the people who live and work in New Jersey, and enhancing the culture for which NJIT has become well-known.