Where's Rutgers Medical School?


Dear President Barchi:

As we understand it, you were brought to Rutgers to do one thing: abolish the gaggle of unrelated institutions that purport to provide medical education in this state and create a Rutgers Medical School.

We're aware that your performance in other areas -- most notably athletics -- has been less than stellar. You have very little feel for Rutgers and its traditions, and the booster coterie on the BOG sold you on the idea that Rutgers has to "be more like Nebraska and OSU to be a real university." Given your background, that's understandable.

But your background should have made you an ideal person to oversee the creation of a Rutgers Medical School.

Now your "restructuring plan" has been announced, and there's no Rutgers Medical School.

Let us try to make clear the importance of the missing element. You like talking about universities as "brands." Maybe you can understand the problem here by thinking about "branding."

Think about, say, Harvard Medical School. People who have graduated from Harvard Medical School don't say "I got my degree from the Richard V. Peeble Medical Unit in Allston, Massachusetts, which is part of a Biomedical and Health Science consortium at Harvard University."

They say "I went to Harvard Medical School."

It's wonderful that you have created a health sciences consortium with dentistry and environmental health and nursing and behavioral health units and the rest of it.


We'd like you to go back to the "restructuring" table one last time and make them vote for one simple change: no subunits with names like "New Jersey Medical School" and "Robert V. Peeble -- sorry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School" and all like that. Just one change: Rutgers Medical School

We don't know if you're aware that, in the early nineteenth century, there was not only a Rutgers Medical School, but that it was one of the leading such schools in the United States, with Dr.Valentine Mott, the most distinguished surgeon of his time, as Professor of Surgery, Dr. David Hosack as Professor of Clinical Medicine, and other leading physicians and teachers (William J. Macneven, John W. Francis, John D. Goodman) on its faculty. Wherever they are now, they would like it if you could restore the Medical School to Rutgers.

Two important points. First, the announcements issued from your office all go on about how this is a "new and exciting day for Rutgers," how we are now a "distinguished research university," how we will soon be among "the very best" in American higher education, etc.

We know this is how university presidents are supposed to talk. But we also know that Rutgers, not least because of the way academic values have been radically undermined by "big time" athletics over the last 20 years, is not "distinguished" or "exciting" or "the very best." It is a once-distinguished school now best known for dismally low admissions standards, a demoralized faculty, and a slum campus. Do try to understand: you can't make things true just by going around saying that they're true.

The other point. Please don't try to whitewash your "restructuring" project by referring to "Big Ten" athletics, as when you boast in one news release about how your "Biomedical and Health Sciences" reorganization includes membership in something called the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC)," which "includes all members of the Big Ten Conference (in which our Scarlet Knights athletic teams will begin competing in 2014) and the University of Chicago."

We have no objection to the "CIC," if you're keen on it and they will take your "Biomedical and Health Sciences" operation. But note this: the University of Chicago, which you yourself admit belongs to this "CIC," plays sports at the Div III level of participatory athletics.

So you don't have to run a semi-pro football franchise, like Nebraska and Ohio State and PSU and the rest of them, to be a member. Get Rutgers out of that sordid "Big Ten" operation, President Barchi -- you'll be having time on your hands now -- and the real process of university regeneration will have begun.

Also, set aside time for one last meeting when you get those administrative types around a table. Announce to them that today's agenda will amend one small omission in their "restructuring project." You want now to create a Rutgers Medical School.