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From Scapular to Scalpel

by Jim Delahanty, D.M.D. ('75)

In the beginning...on the west bank of the Hudson River...the Archdiocese of Newark decreed...let there be enlightenment...and in Jersey City was born the Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry (SHCMD) at the Jersey City Medical Center. SHCMD was incorporated on Aug. 6, 1954. Its charter was granted the following November, and the first class matriculated in 1956. The charter class of New Jersey's first dental education program consisted of 37 men and one woman, who graduated in 1960.

Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry became a publicly funded college with the signing of the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry Act in 1964. The name was changed at this time to the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry.

In 1970, with passage of the Medical and Dental Education Act of 1970, the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey was established by combining New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry with Rutgers Medical School. NJDS completely moved to Newark in 1976. In 1981, the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey achieved university status when legislation was signed changing the name to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

In contrast to its modest beginning, UMDNJ today is the largest free-standing health education facility in the nation.* UMDNJ consists of the: New Jersey Dental School; New Jersey Medical School; Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; School of Osteopathic Medicine; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; School of Nursing; School of Health Related Professions; University Hospital; and the Community Mental Health Centers at Newark and Piscataway. These educational and clinical components are located on campuses in Newark, Piscataway/New Brunswick, Camden, and Stratford.

With passage of the Medicine and Dentistry Act of 1970, the New Jersey State Legislature also granted the government control, conduct, management, and administration of the University to a Board of Trustees. Seven individuals have served at the helm of this institution, starting in 1954 with the Archbishop of Newark, the Most Reverend Thomas A. Boland. He served as chairman until 1964. When SHCMD became the publicly funded Njcmd in 1964, George F. Smith was appointed chairman, and he served through 1971. Following George F. Smith were John A. Kittredge, 1971-1978; Stephen B. Wiley, 1979-1984; Herbert A. Roemmele, 1985-1991; and Charles C. Carella, 1991-1994.

On Aug. 22, 1994, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman asked an oral surgeon from Skillman to put down his scalpel and take the reins of Board leadership. Dr. Arnold H. Rosenheck said yes, and by doing so, became the first healthcare practitioner to chair the UMDNJ Board of Trustees. Upon his appointment, Gov. Whitman said that Dr. Rosenheck's prominence in the field, combined with his experience in academic medicine, made him a natural to lead the UMDNJ Board.

A graduate of Queens College in Jamaica, N.Y., Dr. Rosenheck received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University School of Dentistry. He completed specialty training and received certification in oral surgery from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery. After the closing of Fairleigh Dickinson's Dental School, Dr. Rosenheck was made an honorary alumnus of NJDS.

In addition to his Board duties, Dr. Rosenheck teaches undergraduate and postgraduate dental students in the clinics and in the lecture halls. He also welcomes the opportunity to meet NJDS alumni. Not surprisingly, Dr. Rosenheck has said that, in all his travels around UMDNJ, he feels most at home in the Dental School.

 

*"The First Quarter: UMDNJ, 1970-1995" by Lois R. Densky-Wolff, Archivist, UMDNJ-Special Collections Department.