A Rowan revolution
Like a committed runner hitting her stride, Rowan is fast gathering momentum as it becomes New Jersey’s second comprehensive public research university, setting the groundwork for major academic expansion.
Rowan, which will attain state research university status July 1, realigned its eight main-campus colleges, is hiring more than 60 new tenure-track faculty (assistant professors and instructors), and is integrating both the School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Stratford.
Last summer’s New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act hastened some of the University’s momentum; the act designated Rowan a state research university and is moving SOM to Rowan from UMDNJ, which the state is disbanding.
But much of the momentum has come from a reimagining of what the University can be followed by measured steps to make it so.
A research university
The Restructuring Act, which is moving SOM to Rowan July 1 and granted the University research status, is also pairing Rowan with Rutgers-Camden in the creation of a new College of Health Sciences and moving most of UMDNJ’s other assets to Rutgers. In partnering Rowan and Rutgers-Camden, the state is doubling down on the investment Rowan and Cooper Health System made last year in the creation of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University – a commitment to Camden as a hub for health sciences.
For Rowan, research status does not change the core mission – providing high quality, affordable, undergraduate education – but it enables the University to do more and be more for students, faculty and the region at large.
The goal is to take a limited area of study – engineering, the sciences, business, and medicine – infuse it with a greater focus on research, and let it grow.
“We’re concentrating on very specific areas that can lead to applied research activities,” said Provost James A. Newell. “We ultimately want to become the research and development arm of local industry.”
Inevitably, he said, collaborators in science, medicine and engineering will develop ideas, they’ll work with faculty and students in the Rohrer College of Business and in the South Jersey Technology Park, and they’ll bring products to market. New products mean new businesses for South Jersey and a better local economy.
“It only takes a few home runs to make the whole process worthwhile,” said Dr. Newell, himself an engineer. “They won’t all be home runs, but some will.”
First Ph. D. and other biomedical degrees
At the stroke of midnight June 30 Rowan will acquire SOM, as directed by the Restructuring Act. Although the act did not specify the future of GSBS – Stratford, by mutual agreement with UMDNJ and Rutgers, Rowan has recreated the school and its programs. Students currently in these programs will transfer seamlessly to identical Rowan versions July 1.
As it absorbs SOM and GSBS, Rowan, overnight, will begin offering its first Ph.D. (in cell and molecular biology) and a host of other biomedical degrees including a combined D.O./Ph.D.
And, because Rowan is now designated as a research university – as opposed to a university that does some research – it may create other Ph.D. and graduate and professional programs that serve the needs of the region.
The merger with SOM, which has nationally known researchers in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, cancer, child abuse, and chronic pain disorders, furthers Rowan’s new status as a research university. SOM researchers secured about $13 million in external funding for the 2012-13 year which, added to research already at Rowan, raises the total to more than $24 million.
A historic addition
The merging with SOM and GSBS is yet another momentous event for Rowan in a few short years bursting with them.
Cooper Medical School of Rowan University opened in Camden only last summer and drew more than 3,000 applicants for its first 50 seats.
Rowan Boulevard, a $300 million development linking the main campus with downtown Glassboro, is fast taking shape. There, a Marriott Courtyard hotel and a mixed-use building – the new home for the College of Graduate and Continuing Education with parking garage and retail space – are slated to open this summer.
The addition of SOM, the only college of osteopathic medicine in New Jersey, makes Rowan just the second university in the nation, after Michigan State, to offer both M.D.- and D.O.-granting medical programs.
And, perhaps most significantly, Rowan’s student body has increased roughly 30 percent in just five years – from about 9,000 students to about 12,000 – and both the number and quality of applications continues to rise.
“Students want to be here, and that’s the most important measurement that we’re doing things right,” Dr. Newell said.
More faculty, greater opportunity
As noted, the University is in the midst of hiring more than 60 new, tenure-track faculty. This year alone, Rowan has hired some 22 assistant professors and one associate professor to fill slots in all of its eight main campus colleges. In addition, approximately 35 new instructor positions were created, which are dedicated to teaching and service.
Rowan is planning to expand facilities and received notice April 29 that the state approved $117 million in funding from the $750 million Building Our Future Bond Act, a referendum New Jersey voters approved last fall. The funding, for which Rowan is providing a 25-percent match, will enable the University to build a new home for the Rohrer College of Business, a second building for the College of Engineering, and to complete a variety of smaller but important projects.
Absorbing SOM and GSBS and committing to more than 60 new tenure-track faculty members furthers President Ali Houshmand’s vision of making Rowan an educational and economic force in southern New Jersey.Dr. Houshmand seeks to continue the recent expansion with a goal of doubling enrollment over the next ten years to 25,000 students.
“As Rowan develops our goal is not to change our primary mission – a high-quality, affordable, undergraduate education,” Dr. Houshmand said. “But it does add to it. As a university Rowan is not only a key educator in southern New Jersey but is playing a key role in its economic future.”