New medical school building opens in Camden

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The new home of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University is complete.

More than 350 people witnessed a major milestone in the histories of Rowan University, Cooper Health System, the City of Camden, and the region on Tuesday, July 24, at the grand opening of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU).

The $139 million building, located at South Broadway and Benson Street in Camden, will be the academic home of CMSRU, the first new medical school in New Jersey in more than 35 years. CMSRU also is the first four-year, MD-granting medical school in South Jersey.

A partnership between Rowan University and The Cooper Health System, CMSRU will welcome its charter class of 50 students on Aug. 13. The six-story, 200,000-square-foot building eventually will accommodate 400 aspiring physicians, who will study in a high tech/high touch, mission-driven curriculum.

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To view video of the ribbon-cutting ceremony and time-lapsed footage of the building's construction, click here.

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A host of state, local and South Jersey officials--including Gov. Chris Christie--joined officials from Rowan and Cooper at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"Today's grand opening of Cooper Medical School represents a significant step forward in higher education for the state of New Jersey," Christie said. "The establishment of a four-year medical school in Camden is long overdue, and I congratulate The Cooper Health System and Rowan University on this very successful collaboration. Children throughout New Jersey who dream of one day becoming a doctor now have another medical school option, right in their own state."

In welcoming the crowd, CMSRU Founding Dean Paul Katz noted that the completion of the medical school building was a "herculean" project that took just 17 months and came in on time and under budget. Altogether, 400 workers, including more than 50 Camden residents, worked on the building's construction.

About the medical school building
The CMSRU building, which provides easy access to Cooper University Hospital, includes a 250-seat auditorium; a 140-seat multi-purpose room; 25 active learning rooms; a learning commons and satellite medical library; a Clinical Simulation Center with space to learn and practice interviewing and clinical skills; research and teaching labs for students and faculty; administrative offices; and state-of-the-art laboratory and research space.

CMSRU students will be educated by more than 400 clinical faculty from Cooper University Hospital and its own team of basic science faculty, many of whom are renowned educators and researchers.

'A different kind of physician'
As Katz urged the crowd to "Relish this day," he said CMSRU graduates "will be known as a different kind of physician."

The CMSRU curriculum is designed to provide students with a humanistic education in the art and science of medicine within a scientific and scholarly community in which inclusivity, excellence in patient care, innovative teaching, research and service to the community are valued. The curriculum will have a programmatic emphasis on patient-centered care, patient safety, innovative healthcare delivery system, research and preventative health programs that meet the needs and challenges of patient care in the 21st century.

Katz and other speakers at the grand opening--who included Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Rowan President Ali Houshmand, Camden Mayor Dana Redd, Cooper Chairman of the Board George E. Norcross III, Sen. Donald Norcross, and Cooper Health System President and Chief Executive Officer John P. Sheridan, Jr.--applauded the bi-partisan leadership that made CMSRU a reality.

Strong partnerships have been important in the formation of the medical school, Houshmand noted. Rowan and Cooper exceeded all expectations by completing construction of the medical school in three years--and by meeting what is considered to be the highest academic accreditation standards in higher education.

About the charter class
Altogether, 74 percent of members of the charter class hail from New Jersey. They were chosen from a pool of applicants totaling nearly 2,900 and a group of more than 300 interviewees. Nearly half of the class is expected to live in the City of Camden. The class is 58 percent female and 42 percent male and ranges in age from 22-36. The average age is 25.

With the CMSRU building complete and officially unveiled, it's time for the real work to begin, Katz noted.

"Our most important work begins in August, when the 50 members of our charter class walk through these doors," he said. "Our mission and our core values drive all that we do."

Background on CMSRU
In June 2009, Rowan and Cooper Health System partnered to establish CMSRU. The medical school received preliminary accreditation in June 2011 by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), Houshmand added. The LCME is the nation's primary accrediting body for MD-granting medical schools. Preliminary accreditation is the third step of the five-step LCME accreditation process, which is complete when the first class graduates.

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