NUTLEY, NJ — Seton Hall University officially opened the doors of the Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus on Tuesday, Sept. 18, with Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the Archbishop of Newark, performing a blessing. Located in both Nutley and Clifton, the extension of the main campus in South Orange is now home to nursing, medical and health science students in a partnership between the university and Hackensack Meridian Health.
“This campus was transformed over the summer,” Matthew Borowick, SHU’s interim vice president for university advancement, said at the event. “A construction site turned into classrooms, and students and staff arrived. A vibrant community took shape.”
The Hackensack Meridian Health School of Medicine accepted 60 students to the university this year. The partnership is structured so that Hackensack Meridian Health is financially responsible for the school while SHU retains all academic responsibilities and awards diplomas to graduating students.
Along with the opening of the medical school, SHU created a joint M.D. program for undergraduate students, which allows them to transition to the medical school from any undergraduate major. In addition, 25 percent of the incoming medical school class is set aside for SHU graduates.
“If it wasn’t for this partnership, this campus wouldn’t function the way it has,” Bob Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said at the event. “It’s been a winding road, but seeing that parking lot full is really wonderful.”
Garrett said one of the goals of the new medical school is to teach students how to be doctors and nurses while also teaching them additional skills necessary for those professions.
“We want to bring the humanity back into medicine,” he said. “We want to make sure students see them as humans and not just patients. It’s a school that will educate not just on sick patients but on keeping people healthy. It really will set the tone for interprofessional relationships going forward.”
Mary Meehan, SHU’s interim president, thanked the leadership at Hackensack Meridian Health for their help in the opening of the medical school and IHS campus at the event.
“There were so many times I thought we wouldn’t get here, but I love to be wrong,” Meehan joked. “We dreamed of working hand in hand with a partner with the same vision as us. This campus came alive with the arrival of 60 students, who were chosen out of 2,100 applicants.”
Meehan described running into several nursing students on SHU’s main campus recently, and asking them what they thought of the new IHS campus; undergraduate medical students and nonmedical students alike love the campus, she said.
“They are so excited and it’s great to see that,” Meehan said. “I think we knew this would have tremendous benefits for our undergraduate students as well as our graduate students. Our medical students are giving life to our shared vision. I really believe that people will be coming from all over the country to be a part of this program.”
The IHS campus is built across the border of two towns and two counties, and the mayors of both Clifton and Nutley were at the event to celebrate. The campus is located partly on the property of the former Hoffmann-La Roche health care company, which closed in 2016. Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi said that the loss of that company has been transformed by the opening of the medical school.
“This property was a lemon that I wanted to make into lemonade, and I think that’s happened,” Anzaldi said at the event. “This is better than lemonade. I thank the team at Seton Hall University, at Hackensack Meridian Health, and especially those 60 young people who are going to be doctors someday.”
Nutley Mayor Joseph Scarpelli asked the staff and students who will be frequenting the new campus to immerse themselves in the Nutley community.
“For so long this campus was separate from our community,” he said at the event. “We encourage you to enjoy our parks and go downtown. The future of this campus is bright, and it helps make the future of Nutley bright.”
In his blessing of the campus, Tobin told a story about his first years in the priesthood, when he comforted a doctor who could not save a patient in surgery. He said that the medical school would teach students how to save lives, and would also teach them how to treat patients beyond that.
“I think the unique part is to prepare women and men for those moments when their hands reach their limits,” he said at the event. “I’m grateful to be in the grandstands cheering, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Photos by Amanda Valentovic