In 1976, the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine was founded by legislation authorizing funding for a new osteopathic medical school in southern New Jersey. Gaining approval for the legislation was not easy. It was fought by many who opposed creating a third medical school in New Jersey. Thanks to the persistence and energy of those who fought for the legislation, namely Senator Joseph Maressa, Dr. Howard Levine and Dr. Joseph Riley, the legislation was approved and a "school without walls" was created. Since then, there have been countless milestones, accolades and remarkable growth in new programs, faculty, staff and students. The campus has also experienced tremendous growth, expanding from one building in 1977 to four dynamic centers dedicated to teaching, healing and discovering.
To initiate the educational program, a plan was developed to use the basic science facilities at UMDNJ Rutgers Medical School (now Robert Wood Johnson Medical School) in Piscataway for the first two years of the curriculum, and affiliated community hospitals in southern New Jersey for the last two years. Shortly thereafter, on September 7, 1977, the first class with 24 students began its osteopathic medical training.
UMDNJ-SOM’s first affiliate and its current principal teaching hospital is Kennedy Health System/University Medical Center, with divisions in Stratford, Cherry Hill and Washington Township. Other hospital affiliates include: Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro, Christ Hospital in Jersey City and South Jersey Healthcare in Elmer and Vineland.
Over the years, UMDNJ-SOM has greatly expanded. In 1987, the School opened the Specialty Care Center. In 1989, the adjoining Primary Care Center building was purchased. In July of 1990, UMDNJ-SOM completed the first phase of the Science Center and became a unified four-year campus in Stratford, two full years ahead of schedule. In the fall of 1993, the Academic Center was opened and completed the campus by providing students with state-of-the-art teaching facilities.