President welcomes new Medical School Dean

Katherine Boland/Staff Photographer

Katherine Boland/Staff Photographer

Dr. Bonita Stanton has been named founding dean of Seton Hall University and Hackensack University Health Network’s (UHN) new school of medicine, which is set to open in fall 2018. The hiring of Stanton is said to be an important first step for the medical school, according to Seton Hall University President A. Gabriel Esteban.

This is a significant step in establishing the new medical school among many other crucial details such as securing the campus and solidifying the course material. Esteban stated that “alternative plans” are being made regarding the Nutley and Clifton campus in case the site is not ready on time.

The announcement that Stanton would take on the position of founding dean was made during a press conference on Feb. 24 in the Rotunda in the Walsh Library. The speakers at the conference included Esteban, Stanton and Robert C. Garrett, president and chief executive officer of the Hackensack UHN.

Not only was Stanton recognized at the conference, but plans for the medical school were also mentioned.

Garrett stated that the Hoffmann-La Roche campus in Nutley and Clifton, N.J., is the preferred site for the development of the medical school and that the last few months have been spent in discussion for a leasing agreement.

“We’re pleased to report that we’ve made significant progress,” Garrett said. “I believe the conditions are now there for completing an agreement with Roche in the very near future.”

But, when asked about possible environmental problems at the site, Esteban told The Setonian, “I was talking to someone that is in real estate and they basically said that everywhere you dig in New Jersey there is going to be something, but that being said we have been informed that what they did in terms of remediation of the property will become the standard of remediation. So obviously we won’t sign off on anything if there’s any such concern, I don’t expect.”

On Jan. 14, 2015, Esteban emailed the University community announcing that the projected date for the medical school’s opening was fall 2017, although now it has been set for fall 2018.

When asked if the development of the Nutley and Clifton campus was running smoothly, Esteban told The Setonian: “We’re still in the process of negotiating. As to how long it’s going to be, I was hoping it would be sooner rather than later, but this (hiring of Stanton) is an important first step, actually, because more important, even if we had the site tomorrow we still can’t open because we have to go through the accreditation process, which is roughly 18 months.”

He also added that the University always plans for alternate options and stated that preparation for the opening of the school of medicine will be no different.

“We always have alternatives, but we hate to have any alternative publicized because then people kind of slack off,” Esteban said jokingly. “We have alternative plans, though. If the site is not finished by 2018 we will have alternate plans in effect.”

During the event, Garrett spoke of Stanton’s high qualifications and how they made her the “right choice” during the event.

“As a national leader in academics, medicine and research, Dr. Stanton will lead us in developing one of the most prestigious medical schools and research programs in the entire nation,” Garrett said.

Joan Guetti, senior associate Provost, described the selection process for picking the founding dean of the medical school.

“In the selection of a founding dean certain characteristics are essential,” Guetti wrote in an email. “The new dean needs to have exemplary academic credentials, a record of scholarship, leadership experience, as well as the drive to get a school up and running. It’s a very different challenge than becoming a new dean for an established school. Certainly, Dr. Stanton’s academic credentials, her profile as a scholar and researcher, and her wide ranging experiences and advisory roles, both nationally and internationally, make her a great choice as founding dean.”

“The vision of optimum health for each person, each community, each state and each nation in the globe is universally embraced,” Stanton said at the event. “This vision is not new and it is achievable, but only through commitment.”

Stanton graduated from Wellesley College and Yale University School of Medicine, completed her pediatric residency at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, and her Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellowship training at Yale University School of Medicine.

Stanton has served as vice dean of research at Wayne State University School of Medicine for the past four years. Before that, she served as the Schotanus Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Wayne State; Pediatrician-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit Medical Center; and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, West Virginia University. She was a faculty member and Division Chief of General Pediatrics at University of Maryland School of Medicine earlier on in her career.

Stanton also lived and worked in Bangladesh for five years, working as a health consultant to the World Bank and the International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research all while serving as director
of a research and service program that helped women and children in the slums of Dhaka.

At the event, Esteban said that Stanton exemplifies what it means to be a servant leader. He then stated how Seton Hall’s values of servant leadership would affect SHU medical students for the better.

“So what does it really mean to be a servant leader as a physician?” Esteban said. “We know that the Catholic values from our curriculum combined by a joint commitment of excellence in our academic programs will differentiate our medical health professionals. Our graduates will be able to provide not only excellent medical treatment, but compassion and care as well.”

Ashley Turner can be reached at ashley.turner1@student.shu.edu.

Author: Ashley Turner

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