higher education

Rutgers Creates School of Graduate Studies

Rutgers’ Graduate School-New Brunswick and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences – among the leading research graduate schools in the United States – will join forces and become the School of Graduate Studies, an initiative first conceived as part of the 2013 integration between Rutgers and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

The Board of Governors voted on Thursday to create the new School of Graduate Studies, which will serve about 5,100 students. It will include 63 doctoral programs and 75 master’s degree programs in humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, biological and medical sciences and engineering. There will be 2,659 faculty members.

“We owe it to students to seek a better academic structure to serve their needs, and to our faculty to provide a better environment for their research and teaching,” said Barbara Lee, senior vice president for academic affairs, “and this merger focuses our resources in a way that achieves both results.”

The merger between the two schools at Rutgers – which is among the 60 leading research universities in the United States that make up the prestigious Association of American Universities – will become official on July 1.

“There are great advantages to becoming one graduate school for the students and faculty,” said Jerome Kukor, dean of the Graduate School-New Brunswick and the new dean for the School of Graduate Studies. “A comprehensive, integrated graduate school can bring together scholars from all disciplines and create an environment where we learn what is best for our students as they move forward and plan for their future careers.”

Kukor and Kathleen Scotto, dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, who will become the vice dean of the new School of Graduate Studies, have been working together to make this happen since 2013, immediately after the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Restructuring Act signed by Gov. Chris Christie went into effect. The measure led to the incorporation of UMDNJ, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and University Behavioral Health Care into Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

The new deans said becoming one graduate school will allow the program to be more efficient while creating a graduate studies structure similar to those found at the other AAU and Big Ten institutions, known for offering programs, courses and services not available at smaller colleges and universities.

“This represents the realization of the merger of these great academic institutions,” said Scotto. “We want to take advantage of everything Rutgers has to offer and make our graduate studies program one that will provide both students and faculty what they need to be successful.”

Traditionally, students who have pursued doctoral studies have gone on to become university and college professors. But with more opportunities outside higher education, a changing job market and fewer research grants, there has been a nationwide push in higher education to provide students the support they need to expand their career pursuits outside academia.

“We need to help train students for a career,” said Scotto. “We recognize this, embrace the change and are trying to be proactive in offering what is needed beyond traditional programs.”

Kukor said this shift means bringing faculty and students from biomedical sciences and humanities together to create new programs on a wide range of topics, including health policy, government, science writing, communication, technology transfer and commercialization. He said the new graduate school will begin a yearlong series of symposia and events that will encourage faculty and students to offer new ideas that go beyond traditional programs.

“We know that our graduate programs are preparing their students well, whether it is in electrical engineering, anthropology or biomedical sciences,” Kukor said. “The School of Graduate Studies will make sure that the common sets of skills and information required to help them move forward in careers in government, public policy, business and other professional ventures are provided and that the collaboration needed to be successful is always there.”

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