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FDU is using its new school of pharmacy to introduce its new style of higher learning

Dr. Chadwin Sandifer is the assistant dean of the Fairleigh Dickinson University School of Pharmacy.

It seemed impossible to walk through the halls of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s new School of Pharmacy in Florham Park without running into a smiling face and receiving a polite, “Good morning.”

If you ask Chadwin Sandifer, assistant dean for student affairs & programmatic effectiveness, it was designed that way.

“Each of our spaces has a community kitchen, a community sitting area,” he said before getting interrupted by another greeting. “That’s how these spaces were designed: to really promote that cross-collaboration between our areas.”

“Hello, again,” said another passerby as he finished.

Modernizing education was a major focus for FDU when decided to open the first new pharmacy school in the state since 1892. It decided it would do so with a look to the next 50 years, creating a technology-driven program that the school feels will be a model of higher education for years to come.

The design of the school, parts of which is still being constructed, was based largely on a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology study on the efficiency of learning spaces. And it’s not very different from the trends companies have been implementing in their office spaces, which focus on customizability and collaboration as students work towards their master’s degrees.

But it’s still a work in progress: The school opened in fall 2012, but expansion continues with a new floor having just opened last August. The third floor will be open later this year.

Still, it’s getting people’s attention: Julie Kalabalik joined the School of Pharmacy in November 2013 after teaching at Rutgers University’s pharmacy program, the only other school of pharmacy in a state long touted as the medicine chest of the world.

She said the school’s technology made an impression on her as early as her first interview at the school.

“The fact that they were so technologically advanced here really impressed me and made me feel that I could do more as a faculty member and further advance my teaching because I had all these capabilities,” she said. “It facilitates the learning and helps you to emphasize your points more and spend time on things that are really important, instead of worrying if my technology is going to fail me.”

From her experience, that trust and versatility has influenced the way she delivers content.

Andrew Sheldon
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