Into the future

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Rowan graduates record number of students.

As is the case on most graduation days, Rowan University’s 2011 Commencement was bittersweet.

Roughly 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students took part in Commencement ceremonies, the dividing line, for many, between the life of a student and that of a working member of society.

It was also bittersweet for the university as Dr. Donald Farish, Rowan’s president since 1998, gave his final departing address to graduates. Dr. Farish has accepted the position of president at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and begins his new assignment this summer.

Since Dr. Farish became Rowan’s sixth president the university enjoyed tremendous growth including the acquisition of some 600 acres that became Rowan’s west campus (and now contains the South Jersey Technology Park), the on-going construction of Rowan Boulevard (a $300 million corridor that connects the main campus and downtown Glassboro) and the fast-moving development of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden.

Addressing graduates May 13, Dr. Farish said the ceremony marked the fifth consecutive year of a record-setting number of graduates for Rowan. He thanked the many individuals and groups who helped him move the university forward during his tenure as president, especially the faculty and student body.

“I may wield the baton but they make the music,” Dr. Farish said. “If the faculty are the soul of the institution, the students are its heart.”

Delivering the keynote address, Keith Campbell, a former chairman of Rowan’s Board of Trustees, urged graduates to recognize the changes and challenges that await, and to embrace them.

He noted the changes at Rowan under Dr. Farish’s leadership – not just physical growth but in stature – as well as changes around the world, even changes in technology.

“Let’s face it,” Campbell said, “even as I speak half of you are texting.”

Campbell, who currently serves on the university’s Foundation Board, is chairman of the flooring giant Mannington Mills, a family business based in Salem County, and has been, along with his wife and mother, a generous benefactor to the university. He said life, essentially, is change, and those who make the most of it generally go furthest.

“You have changed in your time at Rowan,” Campbell said, “and Rowan has changed around you. And believe me when I say it, more change is coming.”

The ceremony on the sprawling University Green marked Rowan’s 87th graduating class and, in attendance, were several dozen former students from the class of 1961 celebrating their 50th commencement anniversary and a few from the class of 1941 who were celebrating their 70th.

The program also bestowed businessman John H. Martinson with an honorary Doctor of Science degree, world-renowned conductor Robert E. Page with an honorary Doctor of Music, executive Brian O’Malley (B’81) with a Distinguished Alumnus Award, and entrepreneur Anthony Mongeluzo (B’02) with a Distinguished Young Alumnus Award.

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