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Ceremony marks official dedication of new home for Rohrer College of Business

As a capacity crowd of students, faculty, alumni, business leaders and supporters gathered on Jan. 18 to celebrate the opening of the new home of the William G. Rohrer College of Business (RCB), Rowan University President Ali A. Houshmand took the lectern and shared the reason he joined the University in 2006.

“I said I was looking for a challenge,” Houshmand said. “But what I was really looking for was a dream.”

Houshmand’s dream when he was appointed president was that Rowan would emerge as a major institution of higher learning and serve as an economic engine for South Jersey

Through the dedication of the Rowan community and through support from the State of New Jersey and through public-private partnerships, that dream is becoming a reality, he said.

And nowhere is that more apparent than in Business Hall, the $63.2 million, 98,300-square-foot building on Route 322, Houshmand said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building.

Public support

The first academic building dedicated to business education, Business Hall was funded in part by nearly $40 million from the Building Our Future Bond Act. Passed by voters in 2012, the referendum was the first bond act to support construction at New Jersey higher education institutions in two decades. Rowan received $117 million--the second largest amount of funding in New Jersey.

The Building Our Future Bond Act, coupled with the 2012 Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act, which designated Rowan as a comprehensive research institution and gave the institution its second medical school in Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine, have been absolute game changers for Rowan and, ultimately, South Jersey, Houshmand said.

The new building will allow RCB to double enrollment and to establish programs that will educate undergraduate and graduate business students who are laser-focused on turning ideas into viable solutions and on creating thriving businesses that will ultimately provide jobs and help our economy grow, the president noted.

Jobs are what South Jersey needs, State Senate President Steve Sweeney said at the ceremony.

“The reason southern New Jersey has a weaker economy than northern New Jersey is we don’t have the number of higher education degrees,” Sweeney said, adding that the region needs a more educated workforce to bring jobs to South Jersey, a role that Rowan is addressing.

“We’re expanding capacity for people to go to school in this region,” he continued. “We need a more educated work force to bring the jobs that we want here. This university is the future of our economic development in southern New Jersey. Rowan University is the lynchpin—the key for economic development in the region and the state.

“Rowan continues to lead the way when it comes to providing a state-of-the-art environment for students and research.”

The Building Our Future Bond Act also provided $46 million for the $71 million, three-story, 88,000-square-foot addition to Rowan’s College of Engineering. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for that building is set for Thursday, Jan. 26, at 1:30 p.m.

About Business Hall

Business Hall will allow Rowan to double enrollment to meet demand in the business school and expand programming. The building includes 14 classrooms, seven conference rooms, 10 specialty spaces, 15 administrative offices and 70 faculty offices.

Designed with RCB’s unique approach to business education in mind--one that is built upon collaboration, small class sizes, project-based learning, problem solving, teamwork and entrepreneurship--the building has common areas to encourage collaboration among students and business leaders. It also lounge areas and collaboration rooms.

The building serves as the home for RCB’s trading room with its ticker tracking the stock market in real time; for the Center for Professional Development, a valuable resource for students dedicated to providing career preparation skills designed to make them stand out in the job market; and for Hatch House, a business accelerator dedicated to supporting student entrepreneurism in all majors across campus.

In the fall, the new Center for Responsible Leadership will be housed in Business Hall. According to RCB Dean Sue Lehrman, the center will be focused on supporting “research and teaching that emphasizes the importance of the triple bottom line—people, planet and profit—with a focus on corporate social responsibility.”

Designed by KSS Architects of Princeton in partnership with Goody Clancy Architects of Boston, the L-shaped building’s west end includes a public art installation. Created by Oregon-based artist Ed Carpenter, the sculpture is made from dichroic glass and refers abstractly to gate imagery since the building serves as a gateway onto campus. By day it is a bright focal point. In the evening, the sculpture glows like a lantern, serving as a welcoming beacon both to the University and to the Rohrer College of Business.

‘A first-class education’

Rowan Board of Trustees Chairman Linda Rohrer, a trustee of the William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation and a member of the RCB Executive Advisory Council, Business Hall “reflects a first-class education for this College.

“I just toured this building. I’m breathless and speechless,” said Rohrer. “This building stands as a gateway to our campus. And it stands as a gateway to our future.”

The Rohrer College of Business is named for Rohrer’s father, William G. Rohrer, a distinguished businessman, community leader, government official, and philanthropist. In 2004, the William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation presented the University with a $10 million gift to expand the University’s business curriculum.

Lehrman said the reviews on the new building, which opened for business on Jan. 17, the first day of the spring semester, have been overwhelmingly positive from students and faculty alike. And while faculty and students will spend the most time there, the building is not just for them, she added.

“We expect South Jersey business leaders to call this building their home as well,” Lehrman said. “We want you—those business leaders here today—on campus regularly to collaborate with students on projects and internships, to serve as mentors, to share your talents with our students and to share your big ideas for the betterment of our region.”

The building’s unique design by KSS Architects encourages collaboration, Pamela Lucas Rew, partner with KSS Architects, said.

“Designing meaningful and lasting spaces is a foundation of all KSS work. Higher education, at its core, creates opportunity and possibility. This new Rohrer College of Business building serves as the pivotal gateway to the University. It is a beacon, literally and symbolically expressing Rowan’s commitment to academic excellence and its investment in the region’s future. The spaces we have crafted nurture strong skills as well as the judgment, vision, and integrity that the leaders of the future will apply to advance society and the business profession."

Business Hall already feels like home, said Rowan senior Celina McFarland, a marketing and management information systems major. President of the Bureau of Business Associations, the umbrella organization for student business clubs at Rowan, McFarland helped cut the ribbon for the new building.

“Business Hall provides students with a second home…a place to network, to study, to develop, to learn, and, most importantly, to grow into the entrepreneurs and business leaders we all aspire to be,” McFarland said.