When was the merger of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University finalized?

The merger of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University was effective as of July 1, 2017, creating a comprehensive university focused on 21st-century professional education and designed to deliver a high-impact academic experience and value for students in architecture, business, design, fashion, engineering, health, medicine, science, textiles and more.

To finalize the combination, notices were provided or consents obtained from approximately 30 accrediting agencies, including Middle States Commission of Higher Education, the Departments of Education of the United States of America and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the NCAA and the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

This integration was initiated in December 2015 when the two universities signed a Letter of Intent, followed in September 2016 with a signed Definitive Agreement to move forward with the combination.

What is the name of the combined University?

The name for the combined institution is Thomas Jefferson University and will be referred to as Jefferson in common usage – Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University).

In considering the name for the combined university, a comprehensive study was conducted that included more than 200 personal interviews and a quantitative survey of 3,100 faculty, staff, alumni, current and prospective students, trustees and hiring managers. The research took into account the important contributions of both universities to the new brand, including Philadelphia University’s 133-year reputation for excellence in design, architecture, textiles, engineering, fashion and business, and the nearly 200-year-old Thomas Jefferson University, with world-renowned expertise in the health sciences, research and clinical care. In addition, we have established the Philadelphia University Honors Institute of Thomas Jefferson University.

How will the merger affect academic programs from both institutions?

All existing academic programs—more than 160 in all—and degrees from both legacy universities will continue and many will be expanded. The University is also considering new programs in a variety of disciplines to meet emerging needs that will add value for students and society.

How does a Jefferson education create added value for students?

The new Jefferson provides a unique model for professional education focused on interprofessional and transdisciplinary approaches to learning supported by design and systems thinking, innovation, entrepreneurship, empathy, and the modes of thought central to the liberal arts and scientific inquiry. It provides a vibrant and expandable platform for professional education and the ability to prepare students for current and yet-to-be-imagined 21st-century professions.

Jefferson also is committed to providing students with these critical competencies considered essential to succeed in the workplace both today and in the future: to communicate and collaborate; identify and solve problems; to be creative, diligent and resilient; and to be lifelong  learners.

In addition, the combined University has even greater ability to meaningfully expand research and discovery in the spheres of basic, translational, clinical, health policy and applied research. Research faculty already have begun collaborating to create joint grant applications to federal agencies, industry and foundations.

What is the leadership structure for Jefferson?

Effective July 1, 2017, Stephen Spinelli Jr., PhD, MBA, previously Philadelphia University president, became chancellor of Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University). Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, is president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. Mark Tykocinski, MD, is vice chancellor and provost of the university, as well as dean of Sidney Kimmel Medical College, and Kathleen Gallagher is executive vice president for the university.

What led to the decision to combine as one university?

This is a combination of two educational institutions focused on creating a national comprehensive university designed to deliver high-impact education and value for students in medicine, science, architecture, design, fashion, textiles, health, business, engineering and more.

Prior to signing the Letter of Intent (LOI) on December 17, 2015, the academic leadership of both Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University had connected over several months to discuss potential partnership opportunities. What became clear through these conversations was that both organizations share a commitment and strong desire to reimagine education that can launch students into the careers of their passion in a bigger, bolder way.

It was also determined through these conversations that there are great synergies and complementary programs between these two academically and financially strong universities. For example:

  • Jefferson is recognized as one of the first health professions universities to require students to have hands-on clinical experience in the care and treatment of patients; Philadelphia University is renowned for its experiential, hands-on learning and its commitment to professional education in all areas of study.
  • Philadelphia University is nationally recognized for its transdisciplinary learning and collaborative discovery; Jefferson has an international reputation as one of the first institutions to develop an interprofessional approach to healthcare education.
  • And together, we share the belief that how we deliver education should be reimagined to benefit the 21stcentury student. We also have a number of strong and complementary programs, colleges

Together, this allows us to reimagine education and launch our students into the careers of their passion in a bigger, bolder way.

How does the merger impact the University’s athletic teams?

The University has 17 men’s and women’s athletics teams that will continue to compete in NCAA Division II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference as the Jefferson Rams.  The University boasts one of the winningest NCAA basketball coaching duos in the country – Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-of-Famer and Head Men’s Basketball Coach Herb Magee (1,053 wins) and Women’s Head Basketball Coach Tom Shirley (722 wins). And, yes, Phil the Ram is still the University’s athletics mascot.

What will happen to Philadelphia University’s non-health academic programs?

They will be at the heart of this exciting integration. The depth and breadth of top-ranked, innovative academic programs – including those that are directly related to health and those that are world renowned programs in design, engineering, etc. – is what makes this proposed integration so exciting and what presents the most value for students, employers and communities of the 21st century.

What will happen to TJU- and PhilaU-specific philosophies and programs like Nexus Learning and Inter-Professional education?

It is important to emphasize that the reason both organizations are seeking to integrate is because there is such depth and breadth of complementary programmatic and academic strengths at both TJU and PhilaU. A combination that emphasizes the strengths of our existing programs can only further drive the reach of these approaches for the benefit of our faculty, staff, students and communities.

What happens to the value of my degree/diploma that has the name Philadelphia University or Thomas Jefferson University?

The desire to integrate is rooted firmly in our collective desire to create higher impact and more value for our students past, present and future. We firmly believe that combining PhilaU and TJU will create a unique, comprehensive university which will only benefit students and alumni, alike.

I am a current student. Will my scholarships/grants change next year?

Our goal, as it has always been, is to continue to fund your institutional scholarships and/or grants at the same level each year of attendance as an undergraduate student provided that the information on your FAFSA and institutional funding remains constant.

How does the new combined University benefit students?

The integration of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University will result in increased visibility and recognition in higher education that we have created a university with a unique education model and a world-class reputation. Students will have access to:

  • more state-of-the-art facilities in East Falls and Center City
  • increased Nexus Learning opportunities
  • more internship opportunities
  • enhanced expertise across all disciplines, in architecture, business, design, engineering, health, science and textiles
  • two main campuses that will provide students with suburban-like and Center City experiences
  • more opportunities for undergraduate scientific and applied research
  • a combined alumni base of 63,500
  • a student base of more than 7,500
  • more employers who will continue to revere the profession-ready skills of our graduates, particularly within the context of our combined and innovative approach to education
If I’m graduating in May 2018, what will my diploma say?

Students graduating from our East Falls programs will have a choice of either Philadelphia University or Thomas Jefferson University on their diplomas.

Before the merger, Thomas Jefferson University was focused on health. What does that mean for programs in architecture, business, design, fashion, liberal arts and textiles?

The new Jefferson is about opportunity and creating a comprehensive university with diverse professional programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. By combining the academic program assets of both universities, we expect to offer more opportunity for cross-disciplinary collaborations across a variety of programs including architecture, business, design, fashion, engineering, health, medicine, science and more to benefit students, faculty, industry partners and other stakeholders.

Where will I have my classes?

Your classes will be located at the campus of the university in which you are currently enrolled. There will be a three-year integration process to combine the two institutions. Many programs require specialized spaces (architecture, engineering, health, fashion…) that exist on PhilaU’s or TJU’s campus, respectively, and so any potential changes would be discussed as part of the integration process. If you are a science/health major a PhilaU, there will likely be opportunities for students to utilize some of the state-of-the art equipment and labs that exist at Thomas Jefferson’s campus. However, it is too soon to predict when, if ever, teaching spaces for health/science programs would consolidate to any one location.

What will happen to our class sizes?

While the integrated University will have more than 7,500 undergraduate, graduate and CPS students on two campuses and online, our class sizes will remain small, and our faculty will continue to be deeply involved in your education. Additionally, Philadelphia University’s approach to teaching and learning, Nexus Learning, will continue. What you have now will only be enhanced.

I am getting ready to file my FAFSA form for 2018. What school code should I use?

You should use the Thomas Jefferson University school code – 013549.

Will any non-health programs be eliminated?

All the traditional PhilaU programs like design, engineering, textile, fashion, business and others are important to creating the comprehensive university this integration promises. The integration of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University is not about cutting costs and programs. By combining the academic program assets of both institutions, we expect to be able to offer more opportunities in health and non-health related areas to students, faculty, industry and other stakeholders.

Will I continue to contact the same admissions personnel and/or program director or faculty?

Yes, your admissions contact and his/her colleagues will continue to work with you throughout the process. The same is true of your program director and faculty. Continue to communicate with them to make sure that you are meeting deadlines and for answers to any questions or concerns.

Will the merger impact housing on either campus?

On the Jefferson East Falls Campus, freshmen with a permanent address more than 30 miles from campus are required to live on campus and are guaranteed housing for the first two years of study. After that, we make every effort to offer a housing space to students who wish to remain on campus. We currently use a lottery system to fill available housing spaces for junior, senior and fifth-year architecture students. As we continue our integration process, there may be other housing options for students in the future.

I’ve started researching potential study abroad (or internship) opportunities as part of my degree program. Will those opportunities change?

Study abroad (or internships) are great opportunities to learn in new and different environments. These opportunities will most certainly continue and we look forward to new partnerships and opportunities that will evolve from the integration of the two institutions.

What about the industry projects I’ve been hearing so much about? Will those still happen?

Absolutely! Having industry involved in the teaching and learning process is critical to preparing students to meet the needs of the workplace. These opportunities will most certainly continue and we look forward to welcoming new industry partners to our campus.

As a prospective student, I thought about joining the Fashion Industries Association (FIA) when I enroll in the fall. Will that student organization still exist?

Yes! Student organizations play a key role in community at Philadelphia University and opportunities for student groups focused on particular professions and other special interests will continue to be available to you throughout your time in college.

About Jefferson

Jefferson University Hospitals and Thomas Jefferson University are partners in providing excellent clinical and compassionate care for our patients in the Philadelphia region, educating the health professionals of tomorrow in a variety of disciplines and discovering new knowledge that will define the future of clinical care.

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About Philadelphia University

Our number one priority is providing students with an academic experience that leads to internships, jobs and meaningful career paths. We do this through focusing on innovation, innovative thinking and our award-winning Nexus Learning approach — active, collaborative learning that is connected to the real world and infused with the liberal arts.

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