SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Seton Hall University is moving forward with plans to launch a four-year medical school in partnership with Hackensack University Health Network.

University President Gabriel Esteban announced in an email Wednesday that the intention is to locate the school at the former Hoffmann-LaRoche Corp. campus in Nutley and Clifton. The first class is expected to begin within the next three years.

Esteban said the partners will make a formal announcement on Thursday, Jan. 15, with a final agreement expected early this year.

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“As a Catholic university with strong programs in the sciences, nursing, health and medical sciences, and health law, we are uniquely poised to create a school of medicine that will take advantage of the synergies created with these existing programs to educate talented people in the diverse fields of healthcare,” Esteban said in the email.

The partnership means that Hackensack UHN’s hospitals can provide clinical teaching sites for SHU and SHU-affiliated graduate programs.

“When finalized, this partnership will establish the only private school of medicine currently in the state and provide a significant economic boost to the region,” Esteban said.

According to the Provost’s Office, discussions began in April 2010 when a working group recommended that the University seriously consider re-establishing a school of medicine. The Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry, founded in 1954, was sold to the State of New Jersey in 1965. It was renamed the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry.

In an email, the Provost’s Office said that the opportunity to re-establish a medical school “appears now to be both feasible and favorable.”

“The joint venture involving Seton Hall University and Hackensack University Health Network to create a private medical school will be a tremendous asset both to the health care industry in this state but also will replace the economic void created when Hoffman LaRoche relocated from the area,” said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. “Seton Hall and Hackensack are both well-respected institutions, and their introduction into the Nutley and Clifton communities will create new jobs, enhance the housing market and create limitless economic development opportunities for local businesses. We look forward to the future development of this campus and welcome Seton Hall and Hackensack to the area.”