Posted by: Andrea Alexander | June 7, 2013

Integration Faculty Networking Kickoff: Building a Small Community in a Big University

Kathryn Uhrich, professor, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, at Rutgers talkls with Sheenu Chandwani, who teaches in the Department of Epidemiology at UMDNJ-School of Public Health.

Rutgers Professor Kathryn Uhrich, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, talks with Sheenu Chandwani, of the Department of Epidemiology at UMDNJ-School of Public Health.

With a goal to build a small community within a big university, faculty from Rutgers and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey  kicked off the first in a series of networking events for colleagues across institutions, campuses and disciplines.

More than 100 faculty members attended the Rutgers-UMDNJ Faculty Wine & Cheese Reception on June 4 at the Busch Campus Center. The event was sponsored by the Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics, Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMDNJ.

Joan Bennett, associate vice president for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics, welcomed the group to what she hopes will be the first of many such gatherings.  “This integration is the most important thing to ever happen in higher education in New Jersey,” said Bennett, a professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology who has been at Rutgers since 2006. “It’s really going to make a difference to all of us.”

The idea for the networking wine and cheese reception came from members of OASIS (Objective Analysis of Self and Institution Seminar), a program that supports women in the STEM fields and helps them advance their careers and of which many faculty from UMDNJ and Rutgers are alumnae.

“This was the catalyst. The Rutgers-UMDNJ connections had already formed in OASIS – in which 20 percent of the alumnae are from UMDNJ – and we wanted to offer this opportunity to a broader audience,” said Beth Tracy, director for the OASIS Leadership & Professional Development Program.

Kathleen Scotto, vice president for research at UMDNJ and dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, said integration offers faculty exciting new opportunities for research, professional education and community service.

Joan Bennett welcomes UMDNJ and Rutgers faculty to the networking kickoff.

Joan Bennett welcomes UMDNJ and Rutgers faculty to the networking kickoff.

“You might never work together but you may share personal stories, find a mentor or a mentee or even a golf buddy,” Scotto said to the group. “It’s a great start, a great beginning.”

Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi told the gathering that Rutgers has an “incredible opportunity to bring together health sciences and biological sciences. On July 1 a switch will get turned, it will happen very quickly,” Barchi said. “We need to get people talking and thinking about how we can get this synergy going.”

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