The Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine unanimously passed a preliminary site plan resolution from the Nutley Planning Board. According to tapinto.net, the plan includes 465 permanent parking spaces, 55 on-site on-street spaces, with 196 temporary parking spots in Nutley.
Seton Hall Interim President, Dr. Mary Meehan, described in an email the site plan’s approval process as “long and complex.” Nevertheless, she stated that she is grateful to everyone who diligently worked on the project.
Although the School of Medicine secured approval from the Nutley Planning Board, there is still a lot of work to be done.
“The building interior is substantially complete,” Meehan wrote in an email, “Exterior roadways and site work are still underway, and we hope to have those completed in the spring.”
According to Meehan, the next major task involves the relocation of the School of Health and Medical Science and the College of Nursing from the South Orange campus to Nutley.
Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean of the new School of Medicine, expressed via email her excitement for the forthcoming collaborative journey with the respective leaders of the new school’s community.
“We are thrilled and are looking forward to a close working relationship with our two host communities, Nutley and Clifton,” Stanton wrote in an email.
In addition, Stanton said another major hurdle for the future school is to receive preliminary accreditation. Without the accreditation, the medical school cannot open or recruit students.
“We anticipate receiving an update on this status later in February, but of course we do not know what will be said in that update,” Stanton said.
Furthermore, Stanton noted other challenges that remain such as hiring of the additional staff, relocating to the new site and continuing to compile the curriculum.
As the University continues the thorough process of establishing a new school and location, some students have expressed their dissatisfaction with the relocation.
Maria Provenzano, a junior nursing major expressed in an email her concerns about relocating to Nutley. According to Provenzano, the School of Medicine’s location will add significant time to her commute and separate her from the campus community.
“I am definitely not content with the change to Nutley. It feels extremely chaotic. There are plans in motion, but when you talk to people, it feels like no one has answers,” shared Provenzano. “They threw the news at us, showed us some blueprints of the building, and left it at that. I will be going into the fall completely confused and unprepared for what is to come.”
Ryan Ailara, a sophomore-nursing major, is enthusiastic about the change. As a commuter, Ailara’s major concerns about his campus involvement. With his classes offered at a separate location from his extracurricular activities, he cannot foresee a future where he can belong to his organizations.
“When I committed to attending Seton Hall, I was under the impression that I would be on campus all four years,” Ailara wrote in an email. “In fact, one of the factors that made me like this school so much was the campus. Another reason I am not excited for this move is that I am currently involved on campus.”
“Next year, I can’t see myself being in any of those organizations because they require me to be in South Orange and I will be in Nutley.”
Ailara admitted that he has not been able to attend the School of Medicine’s information sessions and concedes the School of Medicine will be a considerable facility, but claimed that the University should provide better living and commuting arrangements for students to remain involved.
According to Provenzano and Ailara, neither have engaged with a nursing student who has expressed a positive perspective on the relocation.
“I don’t think I’ve spoken to a single nursing student who is excited about the move to Nutley,” Ailara said. “I can’t speak for the entire student body, but I can think of a few reasons for why people may not be happy about this change.”
Ailara considers the disconnectedness from the South Orange campus as a contributing factor to the overall disapproval of nursing students.
Although significant grievances and questions remain among some students, the University hopes the adjustment will be easy and painless.
“We are looking forward to a smooth transition for our students, faculty and employees when the new campus opens,” Meehan said.
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.