NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) — New Jersey’s first private medical school will open in two years under a joint agreement announced Jan. 15 by Seton Hall University and Hackensack University Health Network.

The Archdiocese of Newark’s university and the secular health system, which includes three hospitals, will be establishing the four-year school on a 119-acre research and development campus in Nutley, vacated two years ago by Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant.

This is the second partnership Hackensack has formed with a Catholic institution. Seton Hall President A. Gabriel Esteban and Robert C. Garrett, Hackensack’s president and chief executive, said the school will adhere to the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


“The medical school will be in full compliance with the ethical and religious directives” of the bishops’ conference, Esteban said. “This is not the first Catholic medical school with a secular partner.”

Garrett said Hackensack already has such an understanding with its Jesuit partners at the research and cancer center at Georgetown University Hospital. There, a white paper was formulated specifying the Catholic mission and ethical directives and a similar document will be developed with Seton Hall.

Esteban said the plan was endorsed by Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, also president of Seton Hall’s board of regents and chairman of its board of trustees. The university was founded in 1856 by Newark’s first bishop, James Roosevelt Bayley, who named the school for his aunt, St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, the founder of the Sisters of Charity.

Hackensack’s hospitals will provide the clinical teaching sites to complement Seton Hall’s long-standing health science programs, including nursing, which would move to Nutley from the university’s campus in South Orange.

The partnership is aimed at addressing a physician shortage in New Jersey that is expected to reach 2,500 doctors by 2020. The school is ultimately expected to have a total enrollment of 600 students.

Seton Hall had a medical school for 11 years until 1965 when it was sold to the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark. In 2013, it became part of Rutgers, the state university.

Grant dismissed reports the new school will have start-up costs of $30 million, saying everyone was still crunching numbers. However, Seton Hall and Hackensack are equal partners and will also apply for loans and grants from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and seek donors.

Gov. Chris Christie, who attended the announcement, lauded the partnership and said the school will enhance New Jersey’s No. 2 ranking nationwide in the field of biotechnology.

The as-yet-unnamed medical school will be housed in a six-floor, 500,000-square-foot laboratory building and become the first major tenant on a site that accounted for 2,000 jobs and $9 million in Nutley property taxes.

Roche is now in final negotiations with an unnamed developer for three remaining buildings totaling 1 million square feet and the site’s remaining 100 vacant acres, said Tom Lyon, the company’s vice president. “This is the anchor and sets the stage for the environment we’re creating,” he explained.

Nutley Mayor Alphonse Petracco agreed, saying the focus on health care and technology would act as a magnet for similar tenants.


Frank is associate publisher of The Catholic Advocate and editor of the New Jersey Catholic, the news outlets of the Archdiocese of Newark.