The establishment of both the Joint Health Sciences Center and the Rowan University/ Rutgers University–Camden Board of Governors was created by the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act which took effect on August 22, 2012. The Board’s mission reflects an extension of Camden’s significant “eds and meds” presence and is expected to leverage the educational and research assets to support growth in the region’s health care capacity. The Board has three overarching objectives.
First, from an education perspective, the Board’s mission is to facilitate the development of curricula and programs at Rowan University and Rutgers University – Camden in the area of health sciences and build partnerships between these two institutions and other educational entities. The law gives the Board a clear mandate to establish or expand any schools, programs or departments in the areas of health sciences proposed either by the board of trustees of Rowan University or the board of directors of Rutgers University – Camden. The Board will determine policies, administration and development of health sciences curricula at these two institutions while building partnerships with others.
Second, from an economic development perspective, the Board’s mission is broad. The Restructuring Act contemplates a role for the Board in assisting Camden in its growth arc, specifically within the health space or in areas where there is a health nexus. Experts view economic and social determinants, including physical and social infrastructure in a community, to have an impact on its health outcomes. These determinants include, but are not limited to, housing, employment, education, utilities and public safety. To that end, health related influencers and activities not only provide the right economic development focal point for the Board to pursue, but also a framework for the breadth and scope of efforts it can undertake.
Finally, from a civic engagement perspective, the Board has many pathways to engage the community as it pertains to health-related issues. Clearly, the educational and economic development initiatives to be advanced by the Board will have a net positive effect on the community. However, there is a clear and present opportunity beyond those two objectives to build accountable and healthy communities. The Board will work with the universities and colleges, the city government and various entities to advance community-based programs and projects that will have an appreciable impact on Camden and the region.
The Board will carry out its mission by engaging and partnering with public and private institutions to develop programs and projects that will effectuate a vibrant and sustainable community and health sciences corridor anchored by Rutgers University – Camden, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Cooper University Health Care, Cooper – MD Anderson Cancer Center, Coriell Institute for Medical Research, and Camden County College.