Celebrating Year One: The New Jefferson Continues to Evolve to Deliver Value and High-Impact Education

final-hero-with-text-1920x822One year after the official combination of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University to create a new national preeminent professional university, Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) continues to evolve to deliver high-impact education and value for students in architecture, business, design, engineering, fashion and textiles, health, medicine, science and social science.

“Creative partnerships work,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. “This merger became national proof that the future is in the intersection of fields of thought. In fact, we want to keep challenging ourselves to think differently and see the future in new ways.”

Effective July 1, Jefferson will launch a new College of Rehabilitation Sciences and a College of Humanities and Sciences. In addition, the College of Health Professions will expand to add new programs, and the College of Biomedical Sciences will be renamed the College of Life Sciences to better reflect its new portfolio of undergraduate and graduate programs. These changes represent a realignment of departments and programs to optimize the academic experience for students.

As of July 1, the University will be made up of the following colleges and schools: College of Architecture and the Built Environment; College of Health Professions; College of Humanities and Sciences; College of Life Sciences; College of Nursing; College of Population Health; College of Pharmacy; College of Rehabilitation Sciences; Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, including the School of Design and Engineering and the School of Business Administration; Sidney Kimmel Medical College; and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Steven R. Williams, MD, will serve as dean for the College of Rehabilitation Sciences.

Steven R. Williams, MD, will serve as dean for the College of Rehabilitation Sciences.

This move is advancing Jefferson’s commitment to integrate its offerings by aggregating similar programs under unified leadership; leverage the tremendous faculty talent across the University; accelerate the growth through synergies among educational offerings; and create unique models for transdisciplinary teaching and learning.

In a June 22 commentary in the Chronicle of Higher Education, University Chancellor Stephen Spinelli Jr., PhD, described how an educational philosophy driven by overarching values and pedagogy served as the foundation for the merger of Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University.

“Faculty and staff members and administrators from both legacy institutions are innovation-focused and forward-looking, and both campus cultures reflected a desire to be nimble, current and creative,” wrote Dr. Spinelli, who will become chancellor emeritus on July 1. “The two have equal numbers of undergraduate and graduate students, and we believe that the combination creates valuable options for students and that the scale of the combined entity enables sound economics for the University.”

As for early wins from the merger, Dr. Spinelli noted how applications and donations are up this year, and students and faculty members on both East Falls and Center City campuses have embraced the new Jefferson. (The freshman class is on pace to be 20 percent larger than last year, and East Falls campus is currently up 43 percent in transfer deposits.)

“We offer more accelerated pathways for students to complete undergraduate-to-graduate degrees in a shorter time,” he said. “Students have more opportunities for research and professional clinical sites, and medical researchers are thrilled to be working with design and engineering students.”

Recent transdisciplinary projects at Jefferson include a surgeon specializing in injury research and prevention collaborating with four engineering students to develop a safer youth sports helmet; undergraduate management and nursing students creating innovative solutions to the real-world problems of food insecurity and food deserts and the corresponding impact on patients’ health; and industrial design, physical therapy, occupational therapy and engineering students and faculty modifying an off-the-shelf ride-on car for a boy with special needs.

Mark L. Tykocinski, MD, provost, executive vice president of academic affairs and the Anthony F. and Gertrude M. DePalma Dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College, proudly shared numerous year one accomplishments that will lend themselves to future opportunities for the University. For example, the opening of the Jefferson Israel Center in Jerusalem will drive innovation, create unparalleled academic experiences for students and strengthen global relationships; the Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing, which will provide state-of-the-art education and training in the fast-emerging field of biopharmaceutical processing, will open spring 2019; and the continued development of the Philadelphia University Honors Institute at Jefferson program—and potentially moving to an honors college—to dovetail with professions like design, architecture, textiles, fashion and health.

Recent transdisciplinary projects at Jefferson include industrial design, physical therapy, occupational therapy and engineering students and faculty modifying an off-the-shelf ride-on car for a boy with special needs.

Recent transdisciplinary projects at Jefferson include industrial design, physical therapy, occupational therapy and engineering students and faculty modifying a car for a boy with special needs.

“Students who enter this honors program will have deep immersion in their professional areas of interest,” Dr. Tykocinski said. “In a sense, we’re talking about a profession-tracked honors program, which would distinguish it on the national scene.”

Personally speaking, Dr. Tykocinski called the merger a time of professional “rejuvenation,” expanding his leadership horizons beyond the health realm—allowing him to do things like attend student fashion shows and judge student architectural portfolios.

“All these things become incredibly energizing at another key juncture in my own career,” he said. “I firmly believe that the coming together of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University is going to lead to something very, very special. Being one of the leaders who is giving life to this out-of-the-box merger is exciting.”

Below is additional information about the new College structure:

College of Rehabilitation Sciences
Effective July 2018, Steven R. Williams, MD, will serve as dean for the College of Rehabilitation Sciences and will continue in his role as the Jesse B. Michie Professor and chair of the department of rehabilitation medicine for Sidney Kimmel Medical College and enterprise senior vice president of post-acute and rehabilitation services for Jefferson Health.

The College now will include occupational therapy, physical therapy and athletic training, which had existed under the College of Health Professions and the College of Science, Health and Liberal Arts. Future plans for the College of Rehabilitation Sciences will include the establishment of departments of rehabilitation sciences and technology, speech and language pathology, and outcomes measurement, and divisions for the study of cognition, human engineering and design, and assistive technology. The College will leverage Jefferson’s recognized leadership in the fields of occupational therapy, physical therapy, rehabilitation medicine, orthopedics and the neurosciences to create leading-edge academic and research programs.

“I have always loved my interactions with students and helping them to find their career,” Dr. Williams said. “I look forward to creating programs that will be unique in terms of educating students to provide high-quality care that will integrate people back into their communities.”

College of Health Professions
Effective July 2018, Michael Dryer, PA-C, DrPH, will serve as dean for the College of Health Professions. Dr. Dryer was formerly the executive dean for the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts.

The College will include the following programs: community and trauma counseling and art therapy; couple and family therapy; disaster medicine and management; medical laboratory sciences and biotechnology; midwifery and women’s health; physician assistant program (Center City, East Falls and New Jersey campuses); and medical imaging and radiation science.

“We are very fortunate,” Dr. Dryer said. “We have an amazing group of faculty and have students come from all over the country to study with us. We’re looking at ways to provide the best possible experience. We have created many innovative programs, and we have several others being developed that will expand the offerings at Jefferson.”

College of Humanities and Sciences
Effective July 2018, Barbara Kimmelman, PhD, will serve as dean for the College of Humanities and Sciences. Dr. Kimmelman was the academic dean for arts and sciences in the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts, and professor of history. The College will include the programs of biopsychology, communication, law and society, and psychology and will house the Hallmarks Program for General Education.

Faculty in the College represent a wide range of disciplines, including African American studies, American studies, anthropology, history, international studies, languages, philosophy, mathematics, physics, sociology, and writing and rhetoric. Both the majors and the Hallmarks Program are characterized by strong disciplinary training enriched by transdisciplinary collaboration within the College and across other Jefferson Colleges, Dr. Kimmelman said.

“I am very proud of the curriculum we deliver,” she said. “This is knowledge and sets of skills that students will take with them throughout their lives, through any possible change in their profession and range of interests.”

College of Life Sciences
Effective July 2018, Gerald Grunwald, PhD, dean of the former College of Biomedical Sciences, will serve as dean of the College of Life Sciences, which will add biology, biochemistry, chemistry and pre-med undergraduate programs to its offerings.

The Jefferson leadership team at last year's combination ceremony.

The Jefferson leadership team (and Phil the Ram) at last year’s combination ceremony.

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