In 1976, the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine was founded by legislation authorizing for a new osteopathic medical school in southern New Jersey. Gaining approval for the legislation was not easy. Thanks to the persistence and energy of those who advocated 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. As a result of the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act of 2012, UMDNJ was disbanded; the school became part of Rowan University on July 1, 2013. It is now known as Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, or RowanSOM.
To initiate the original educational program, a plan was developed to use the basic science facilities at 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.
RowanSOM’s first affiliate and its current principal teaching hospital is Kennedy University Hospital, with divisions in Stratford, Cherry Hill and Washington Township. Relationships with other teaching hospitals developed later and, today, major clinical affiliates are Lourdes Health System (Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden and Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro) and Inspira Health Network (formerly South Jersey Healthcare) in Bridgeton, Elmer Vineland and Woodbury. Clinical affiliates include Christ Hospital in Jersey City, Cooper University Hospital in Camden, Atlantic Health in Morristown and Summit, and Meridian Health System in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Over the years, the school has greatly expanded. In 1987, it opened the Specialty Care Center, today known as the University Doctors Pavilion. In 1989, the Primary Care Center building, now known as the University Educational Center, was purchased. In July of 1990, 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. Additions, renovations and capital improvements have continued to provide students with state-of-the-art teaching facilities.