Rowan University names Dr. Ali Houshmand interim president


The Rowan University Board of Trustees has named Dr. Ali Houshmand interim president of the University effective July 1.

The Rowan University Board of Trustees has named Dr. Ali Houshmand interim president of the University effective July 1.

The chief academic officer of Rowan for close to five years, Houshmand assumed the new position when Dr. Donald Farish left the University to become president of Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.

Houshmand was appointed provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Rowan University in September 2006.


In that role, Houshmand not only expanded on- and off-campus academic offerings but also helped transform the financial condition of the University, bringing to Rowan an entrepreneurial—and cost-effective—approach to offering educational programs.

A highly visible example of that is the College of Graduate and Continuing Education (CGCE), which offers degree and non-degree programs on campus, offsite and online and is South Jersey’s largest provider of online courses. In addition to ensuring maximum flexibility, particularly for working professionals, CGCE initiated a new revenue stream for the University that helps address the ongoing shortfall in state funding. A pivotal CGCE element is the nursing program, which has grown from an on-campus offering for fewer than 50 students to one serving 400 nurses at Rowan and at four South Jersey health systems. This month, Rowan entered an agreement with Gloucester County College to offer courses at the Deptford-based school as well.

During his time as provost, Houshmand saw research funding increase dramatically, nearly doubling in the last year alone from $8.5 million to more than $14 million in grants. That funding comes from numerous regional and national entities, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and U.S. Navy, along with major corporations.

Among many other programmatic and fiscal accomplishments, Houshmand also shepherded the restructuring of Rowan’s summer school and graduate programs as revenue-generating offerings.

Most recently, Houshmand oversaw a University-wide budget-cutting process that enabled Rowan to cap tuition and fee increases for academic year 2011/12 at 3 percent while increasing student aid and investing in academic programs and infrastructure.  Houshmand spearheaded realignment of academic and other programs that improved efficiency, which contributed to the budget cap.

“Dr. Houshmand possesses an exceptional awareness of Rowan’s role as the largest higher education institution in South Jersey and as an economic force in our region. He is well suited to propel Rowan forward, in particular as we partner in developing Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and Rowan Boulevard and as we expand the South Jersey Technology Park,” said Helene Reed, chairwoman of the Rowan University Board of Trustees. “The board is pleased that Ali, with his experience and knowledge of our campus, will lead the school through this transitional period, maintaining the momentum we have been enjoying. It’s an exciting time for us. I think Rowan is in good hands.”

Houshmand, 56, has a long history in academia, both in the Midwest and in the Delaware Valley.

Prior to coming to South Jersey, Houshmand was an associate provost for academic affairs, dean of the Goodwin College of Professional Studies and interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Drexel University. Before Drexel, he held, among other positions, that of faculty member, director of graduate studies in the Industrial Engineering program and acting director of the Industrial Engineering program at the University of Cincinnati.

He started his professional career as a staff analyst for United Airlines, and he held several positions at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and University of Essex in England while a student.

Houshmand earned both a bachelor’s degree with honors in mathematics and a master’s degree in mathematical statistics from the University of Essex and a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan.

“I am honored to serve Rowan University as interim president,” Houshmand said. “This is a strong community. These are exciting times. In the five years I have been at Rowan, we enjoyed remarkable growth and exceptional opportunities. I look forward to continuing to work with our faculty and staff and with Glassboro; Gloucester and Camden counties; and South Jersey residents, officials and businesses to further develop educational opportunities at Rowan that serve our students and build the region.”

A committee comprising Rowan board, faculty, staff and student representatives currently is working with executive search firm Storbeck/Pimentel, Media, Pa., to conduct a national search for Rowan’s seventh president.