Special events draw Rowan, Boro ever closer

Special events draw Rowan, Boro ever closer

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There was a time in the not too distant past when Rowan students, like students in many college towns, did not mix much with local townsfolk.

But not now.

A series of special events this fall – many along Rowan Boulevard – highlights the ways in which Rowan students, faculty, administrators and staff actively integrate with Glassboro and support the community, its residents and businesses.

The first event, Cruise Nite Car Show Sept. 4, featured a juried exhibition of classic cars and drew hundreds of visitors to Glassboro’s fast-developing Rowan Boulevard.

All privately built and operated, the Rowan Boulevard project, begun in 2008, is a one-third mile public/private partnership featuring student and market rate housing, academic classrooms and offices that are leased by the University, and a wide variety of businesses, from small proprietorships to a Courtyard by Marriott hotel and conference center.

For Cruise Nite, the Boulevard was closed to moving traffic, lined on either side with gleaming showroom condition automobiles. On the south end a vast parking area opposite Barnes & Noble opened onto even more classic cars and there were food trucks and a live band.

“It’s pretty cool,” freshman accounting major Bill Phillips of Franklinville said, passing through. “I didn’t know it was going on but it’s pretty neat.”

Constantine Alexakos, Rowan director of student affairs and a Cruise Nite organizer, said shared public events help make strong ties between the University and Glassboro even stronger.

“This is the type of event Rowan Boulevard was designed for,” Alexakos said.

In addition to Cruise Nite, upcoming events include a Homecoming block party on Rowan Boulevard Oct. 16, Rowan Holiday Helper, an annual fundraiser, Nov. 16 and Boro in Lights, a downtown multi-faith celebration, Dec. 4.

Tom Marsella, president of Student University Programmers, the student group most actively involved in the events, said participation since freshman year enabled him to make friends and connections.

“Being part of Rowan you’re also part of Glassboro,” said Marsella, a senior human resource management major from Elmwood Park. “Interacting with people from the community, we’re also strengthening Rowan.”

 

Integration expanding

This fall’s special events highlight a well-defined and growing bond between the University and it’s hometown.

Throughout the year, Rowan students, faculty and staff take part in a variety of fundraisers and benefits, including blood drives, food drives, even coat drives.

Each spring Rowan holds Back to the Boro, a one-day event in which student volunteers fan out through the community to help residents on all manner of projects, including painting, landscaping and gardening.

In addition to Rowan Boulevard, the University’s physical integration with downtown Glassboro expanded in two locations in 2015.

In March, Rowan leased space at 6 E. High Street, a historic former bank building, to serve as the new home to the Dean’s Office for the College of Communication & Creative Arts, the Journalism faculty and The Whit student newspaper.

In September, Rowan opened 301 W. High Street, a three-story building the University purchased and renovated for an art gallery and new offices and classrooms for the Department of Public Relations & Advertising.

Rowan also has a huge economic impact in Glassboro – nearly $110 million per year according to a new private report – where the University supports more than 1,000 external jobs.

The report notes that through the Dining Dollars/Boro Bucks program alone, students, faculty and staff have spent more than $13 million at local businesses since 2013.

Robert Zazzali, senior vice president for community & economic development for Rowan, said the symbiotic relationship between Glassboro and the University has never been stronger, or more important.

“Like many small communities, Glassboro lost much of its commerce and retail shops to the malls and other shopping venues and, until recently, the downtown area was not a strong selling point for the University,” Zazzali said.

But the borough is back, he said, and as strong, or stronger, than ever.

“The vision of Rowan Boulevard was to recapture that vibrancy and, through public/private partnerships, return commerce and retail so that the downtown would once again become a destination point,” he said. “With affiliated housing and retail operations, a hotel and academic buildings, the Boulevard is well on its way to recapturing that essence of a thriving downtown and is already a great selling point for prospective students, faculty and staff.”