Accreditation Is Restored for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of N.J.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a top producer of minority doctors and dentists, has had its accreditation restored by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

In a recent letter to the university, which had been on probation since June 2006, the commission said the restoration of full accreditation was appropriate “because of progress to date and evidence of the institution’s capacity to make appropriate improvements within a reasonable period of time.”

On Dec. 30, 2005, a federal judge ordered a review of the university’s financial transactions and appointed former prosecutor and Judge Herbert J. Stern to monitor the records.

The university was found to have engaged in rampant financial abuse for years. Administrators acknowledged that they overbilled Medicaid by $4.9 million, and a report also charged that members of the university’s board of trustees used their positions to secure jobs for relatives.

The restoration of accreditation follows the recent termination of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Stern recommended the return of full responsibility for governance of the institution to the UMDNJ Board of Trustees after the implementation of a number of reforms by the board and administration.

The reforms included:

  • Expansion of the Board of Trustees from six to 18, including the appointment by the governor, speaker of the General Assembly and the Senate president of a complement of leaders from the fields of education, medicine, business, law and finance who actively oversee a series of new Board committees.
  • Creation of board committees to oversee critical functions such as governance and ethics and auditing, which are modeled largely after the corporate audit committee structure mandated for private corporations by federal legislation.
  • Creation of a new office of Ethics and Compliance with an expanded staff that is deployed at all campuses and at the university hospital.
  • Development and implementation of a series of new purchasing and procurement policies based on transparency and the use of competitive bidding. And the creation of a new contract management department to ensure contracts are properly followed and that the university receives all services and goods for which it has contracted.
  • And the adoption of a comprehensive “whistleblower” policy to protect those who report wrongdoing and encourage them to come forward with information.

This “news is gratifying for the members of the board of trustees, who have been working with great dedication on addressing critical governance and policy issues,” said board chair Robert J. Del Tufo. “The progress of our reforms has brought us to this point, but our work continues. We will maintain our reforms and also work to address key academic, financial and other matters to ensure this university remains a source of pride for the people of New Jersey and a resource to the state and the nation.”

According to Diverse’s 2007 “Top 100” graduate degree rankings, UMDNJ awards more medical degrees to minorities than any other institution and ranks 14th in awarding first-time professional degrees in dentistry.

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