RBHS Chancellor's Thanksgiving Message

Dear Colleagues:

In this season of Thanksgiving, I want to share with you some of the things we are thankful for, summarizing the progress we have made on ongoing initiatives since the start of this academic year.

Faculty Contract

I am extremely pleased that the AAUP-BHSNJ (the bargaining unit representing the majority of RBHS faculty) contract was ratified in early November. Highlights of the agreement (contract term: July 1, 2013 — June 30, 2018) include across the board salary increases (2014 and 2015), merit increases (2016 and 2017), lump sum payments to faculty who were members of the collective negotiations unit as of July 1, 2013 and remain so as of date of payment, removal of salary maxima, an extramural research incentive program, tuition remission for dependent children, a faculty transition to retirement program, and new appointment and promotions guidelines. I would like to thank and recognize the negotiating teams, led by Karen Stubaus, PhD, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Administration at Rutgers, and Ilyssa DeCasperis, JD, Executive Director of the AAUP-BHSNJ, for the dedication, effort, and leadership they provided in bringing us to an agreement. Contract details are available here: http://aaupbhsnj.org/Contract-Settlement-for-Ratification.html. Human Resources and Academic Labor Relations are now hard at work to make these new contractual terms happen, and we anticipate a joint announcement with the union on the process of implementing the salary components within the next week or so.

First Year Progress on the RBHS Strategic Plan

Our strategic planning website now includes progress reports following the first year of the implementation of our strategic plan. A few remaining reports will be posted soon. Please review our site to see the progress we have made: http://rbhs-stratplan.rutgers.edu/implementation/progress-implementing-rbhs-strategic-plan-initiatives.

RBHS Leadership

Several leadership appointments have been made:

  • Robert S. DiPaola, MD, Director of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ), has assumed additional responsibilities as RBHS Vice Chancellor for Cancer Programs
  • Reynold A. Panettieri, Jr, MD, appointed as the Inaugural Director of the RBHS Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Vice Chancellor for Clinical and Translational Research, and as Chancellor Scholar
  • Vicente Gracias, MD, appointed as Senior Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs
  • Chen Liu, MD, PhD, appointed as joint chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (New Jersey Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Director of Molecular Pathology for CINJ, and Chancellor Scholar; he will lead pathology for the RBHS clinical enterprise and will help bridge precision medicine activities between New Brunswick and Newark

Several key leadership searches are ongoing:

  • Director of Global Health for RBHS and Henry Rutgers Professor of Global Health (finalists have been interviewed)
  • Director of Bioethics for RBHS and Henry Rutgers Professor of Bioethics (finalists have been interviewed)
  • Director, Environmental and Occupational Health Institute and Chair, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health (search in process)
  • President and CEO, University Behavioral Health Care (search in process)

Faculty Development

With the new appointments and promotions guidelines in place, Provosts Jeffrey Carson and Robert Wieder have begun a series of meetings with faculty, chairs, and school promotion committees to explain the guidelines, expectations, and promotion criteria in detail, as well as the new faculty tracks. RBHS schools also are now reviewing their bylaws, focusing on local implementation of the general criteria for promotion and development of professionalism criteria, applicable to their own fields that ensure institutional success.

I also would like to inform women faculty of two RBHS-sponsored opportunities and encourage all who seek to enhance their leadership and management skills to apply. The first is a fellowship in the year-long, part-time Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program for women faculty in schools of medicine, dentistry, and public health. This is a very successful and well-regarded leadership program, conducted annually by Drexel University College of Medicine (http://www.drexel.edu/medicine/Academics/Womens-Health-and-Leadership/ELAM/). The second is a fellowship for the HERS (Higher Education Resource Services) Bryn Mawr Summer Institute, a 12-day higher education resources leadership training course dedicated to creating and sustaining a community of women leaders (http://www.hersnet.org/institutes/bryn-mawr/). As we did last year, RBHS will sponsor three fellowships. Provosts Wieder and Carson will distribute an announcement imminently about the application process for RBHS-funded fellowships for these programs.

Clinical Initiatives

An initiative has been undertaken to address patients' inadequate access to health care provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group (RWJMG). RWJMG is working in collaboration with the Access Center at University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC) to develop a call center to manage the scheduling of appointments for the clinical practices. This was intended to assure that incoming patient calls requesting clinical care appointments were answered promptly. Achievements of this and other RWJMG initiatives include the following:

  • greater than 80% of the time calls are now answered within the 30 second benchmark, a significant improvement from the baseline of 25%
  • the combined abandonment/voicemail rate is now below the benchmark goal of 6%, a significant improvement from the baseline rate of greater than 60%
  • in FY 2015, the number of new patient appointments increased by 5,369 (12.7%) when compared to FY 2014, with an additional increase of 8.4% in the first four months of FY 2016 compared to the first four months of FY 2015
  • in FY 2015, the fee for service patient revenue increased by $15.2M (15.2%) when compared to FY 2014

Significant progress also has been made on the development of a proposed new model for an RBHS-wide multi-specialty, multi-professional faculty practice plan. The new model provides a vision and specific set of design principles to guide the development of an integrated interprofessional practice and an organizational model to support an integrated clinical enterprise across Rutgers. Discussions continue with affected faculty. Ultimately, the new model will need approval by the Board of Governors. More information will be forthcoming.


The quality of our faculty and their research efforts are being recognized extramurally, with outstanding success. Extramural research awards increased from $221M in FY 2014 to $271M in FY 2015, which represents a remarkable increase of 22.6%, especially in this limited funding environment. In the first quarter of FY16, awards increased an additional 50%, which is an extraordinary accomplishment. During this same period, proposals submitted by RBHS investigators increased by 37%, from $97M to $133M, as compared to the prior period.

Educational Programs

Our educational offerings continue to expand. A few examples are below.

The Camden College of Arts and Sciences at RU–Camden and the School of Public Health (SPH) have developed a Rutgers–Camden Health Sciences BA and School of Public Health MPH articulated degree program. Application materials will be accepted in the spring 2016. In addition, the SPH and RU-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration and College of Arts and Sciences are finalizing a BS in public health degree program. Finally, the SPH is in the planning stages for a bachelor's /MPH articulated degree program with the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) has been selected to join the American Medical Association's Accelerating Change to Medical Education Consortium. The 31 member consortium is working to advance and transform undergraduate medical education so that it better aligns with healthcare delivery in a changing environment. The RWJMS program, Improving Chronic Illness Care and Population Health at Home: Maximizing Integrated Care Delivery through Interprofessional Learner Teams, is a medical school/health system/accountable care organization (ACO) educational partnership with other RBHS and Rutgers health professions schools that will teach students about the patient/caregivers' experiences of care, quality and safety metrics, costs of care for individual patients, patient education and behavior change techniques, individual and population care coordination, the role of interprofessional healthcare teams, how integrated care delivery systems work and performance is measured, and how cost, quality, and utilization data are used by ACOs and payors.

The Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy is preparing a new academic program in academic year 2016 that will improve patient healthcare transitions. Through the school's new Center for Transitional Care, pharmacy, medical, nursing, and other health professions students will receive training in clinical practice and transitional care in an interdisciplinary laboratory setting that includes simulated hospital and community practice environments. Training will include collaborative coursework, experiential education, and technology.

The Rutgers School of Health Related Professions (SHRP) is collaborating with the International Federation of Associations of Pharmaceutical Physicians to develop a Biopharma Educational Initiative, which will be an online professional certificate in Medical Affairs and Clinical Development. The program is designed for MDs, PhDs, and PharmDs to provide them with the skills needed to enter or advance in the pharmaceutical industry. Courses include medicines development and development planning; clinical trials from concept to study report, regulatory affairs, and drug safety; medical affairs; and health economics. The program will begin in academic year 2017.

The SHRP Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation is continuing its development of a PhD program in Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Counselor Education, and Supervision. The program offers a unique approach to this doctoral degree by combining both clinical and research education, and is one of the first in the nation. The department is also working with the Rutgers–Newark Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Psychology in the development of a new joint BS degree in psychiatric rehabilitation. Both programs will be fully operational in academic year 2017.

School/Institute Reviews

To assist our schools and institutes and ensure they achieve their missions and strategic goals, RBHS is implementing systematic and periodic internal and external reviews of all RBHS schools (and their constituent departments) and institutes (including their programs). This academic year we are initiating reviews of the School of Dental Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Financial Progress

Through the first quarter of FY 2016, RBHS realized a $15M operating deficit, which was a $4M (or 22%) improvement over the budgeted deficit of $19M. This strong financial performance is primarily the result of continued prudent financial management, success with research awards, and increased clinical revenues.

Rutgers 250th Gift

On Tuesday, November 10, 2015 President Barchi and Johnson & Johnson unveiled the first birthday gifts commemorating the 250th anniversary of Rutgers University. One of these is a $1 donation for every photo sent to the “Donate a Photo” app for scholarships for students pursuing degrees in health-related fields. Rutgers University will receive a minimum of $30,000 in funding and a maximum of $50,000. If we reach the $50,000 goal, 50 new $1,000 need-based scholarships will be created. Further, Johnson & Johnson will consider extending the eligibility period to raise additional funds for our students. To participate, download the “Donate a Photo” app, create an account, and select Rutgers University from the list of nonprofits among the rotating list of selected Johnson & Johnson nonprofit partners: http://donateaphoto.com/en_US/cause/rutgers-250. You can submit one photo each day for as many days as you wish. Rutgers University will be a featured nonprofit partner from now through January 30, 2016.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH 
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences 
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs