Rowan hits critical milestones in transformation
Rowan University's Board of Trustees adopted several measures on Feb. 13 that maintain institutional momentum as Rowan evolves as an economic engine and educational hub for the 21st century.
Key among the actions, the Board extended President Ali Houshmand's contract for five years, formally changed the name of the School of Osteopathic Medicine that will become part of Rowan in July, designated funding for the construction of three new academic buildings and expansion of a fourth, and amended the University's master plan.
Houshmand, who became Rowan's seventh president in 2012, is in the second year of a three-year contract. However, noting his vision, passion for the University and entrepreneurial zeal, the Board voted to award him a new five-year contract.
Board Chairman Linda Rohrer, who traditionally speaks for the body, was on vacation but noted her support for Houshmand in a letter to the University dated Feb. 11.
"(Dr. Houshmand’s) demonstrated leadership, personal drive and entrepreneurial spirit are exactly what this University needs as we evolve from a state school into a regional research university that nurtures and values its core mission of undergraduate education,” Rohrer said.
A second medical school
The University, which has continually reinvented itself since the announcement in 1992 of a transformational $100 million gift from Henry and Betty Rowan, again finds itself changing and growing.
Within days of the opening of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) in Camden last summer, Gov. Chris Christie signed the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Restructuring Act, a law that disbanded the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and moved the School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) in Stratford from UMDNJ to Rowan, effective July 1.
Once SOM is incorporated into Rowan, the University will join Michigan State University as the only two universities in the nation to offer both M.D.- and D.O.-degree-granting medical programs.
After considering several options, the Board renamed SOM the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM), a name that builds upon the Rowan brand.
The Restructuring Act also designated Rowan as the state’s second comprehensive public research university, a historic development that will enable the institution to create a broad array of professional degree programs.
"Rowan's niche will be the intersection of medicine, engineering, the sciences and business," Houshmand said following the meeting. "That is where we believe the greatest need will be."
First step toward the College of Health Sciences
In addition to designating Rowan a research university and moving SOM under its purview, the Restructuring Act paired Rowan with Rutgers-Camden to create an all-new College of Health Sciences, to be based near CMSRU.
A new Board of Governors, with members from Rowan and Rutgers’ Boards, will oversee the College of Health Sciences. Rowan's Board of Trustees appointed members Fred Graziano and Chad Bruner to serve on that new body.
Bond to fund construction
In November, New Jersey voters approved a referendum to help finance facilities that will increase capacity at state colleges and universities. The Board voted to use that financing to construct three new academic buildings — a new home for the Rohrer College of Business; a second building for the College of Engineering (both on the main Glassboro campus); and a new building in Camden, in conjunction with Rutgers, for Health Sciences.
The Board, which also formally approved the University's master plan, a guide that previously noted the need for new Business and Engineering buildings, also voted to expand the existing Academic Center at RowanSOM.
All of the new construction will expand Rowan's capacity to increase enrollment and help fill a void in southern New Jersey.
On Rowan Boulevard
In a busy afternoon the Board also approved $1.6 million in new funding for furniture, fixtures, signage and other equipment for the "E1" building now under construction along Rowan Boulevard.
That building is rising between Barnes & Noble and the new Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, also under construction. “E1” will include a parking garage, which will account for about two-thirds of the structure; classroom space for Rowan's College of Graduate and Continuing Education; and first-floor retail space.
The $300 million Rowan Boulevard project, a unique public-private collaboration of Rowan, the Borough of Glassboro and private builders, is fast changing the face of both the campus and the Borough, with new housing for 1,300 students and two new eateries. Fully built, Rowan Boulevard will be a tree-lined roadway with dozens of retail and dining options.
Honoring the past
The Board recognized the late Clarence Miller with the naming of Room 153 in Wilson Hall the Clarence Miller Choral Room. Mr. Miller, who served then-Glassboro State College from 1956 to 1992, was a professor of voice and founder of the Concert Choir program. A formal dedication will be held in the fall.
"The train is coming!"
Following the official portion of the meeting, Delaware River Port Authority CEO John Matheussen and Camden County Freeholder Jeffrey Nash presented a vision of the light rail line proposed to connect to the campus and downtown Glassboro.
The 18-mile Glassboro-Camden Line will use existing Conrail tracks, with one-way trips taking approximately 35 minutes, Matheussen said. He said not only is the train a reality, it will be here within six years, and he predicted up to 20,000 riders will use the line daily.