A Major Milestone

A Major Milestone

State awards Rowan $117 million for new academic buildings and improvements.

It’s the latest major milestone for Rowan University in a few short years thick with them.

On April 29 Gov. Chris Christie announced Rowan will receive more than $117 million, pending approval by the Legislature, for an ambitious construction program that will change the landscape of the University.

The funding, most from the $750 million Building Our Future Bond Act, a referendum approved by New Jersey voters last fall, will enable the construction of a new home for the Rohrer College of Business and a second building for the College of Engineering, projects that will permit the colleges to double enrollment to 2,000 and 1,500 students respectively.

The announcement comes almost two months to the day before last summer’s New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Restructuring Act takes effect. The act will transform Rowan into the state’s second comprehensive public research university and move the School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) to Rowan from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), which the state is disbanding.

“In no uncertain terms, this is the critical funding Rowan requires to transform into a major comprehensive public research university,” said President Ali Houshmand following the Governor’s announcement. “This is a tremendous investment by the State in our institution, in Glassboro, and in all of South Jersey.”

Wide impact

Dr. Houshmand, who has long touted Rowan as southern New Jersey’s greatest economic engine, said the two major construction projects alone will greatly impact not only generations of Rowan students but will ripple throughout the region, beginning with the labor and resources needed to complete them.

The state allocated $40.4 million for construction of the three-story, 90,500-square-foot addition to the College of Engineering building and $45.9 million to build two adjacent 55,000-square-foot structures for the College of Business. Those two projects alone will create some 550 construction jobs, generate more than $180 million in economic activity, and result in more than 100 new permanent jobs. Rowan will issue bonds to cover the 25-percent match required by the state and to provide the balance of funds needed to build the new structures.

Dr. Houshmand said plans are in place to begin construction as soon as funds become available and said the work should be complete within three years.

"While the approved state funding will not cover every project Rowan requested, unfunded projects remain a priority, especially an addition to SOM’s academic building," Dr. Houshmand said.

College of Business Dean Robert C. Beatty and College of Engineering Dean Anthony Lowman said the funding announcements couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

In fact, Dr. Lowman noted, the College of Engineering now has ten qualified applicants for every student it accepts.

"This funding affirms the forward-thinking, transformational gift by Henry Rowan that has had such a profound effect on South Jersey students and their lives," Dr. Lowman said. "It will allow the program to continue to grow to greater heights, impact more students, and drive economic development."

Other developments

In a letter to the University Dr. Houshmand said the funding would also help pay for a number of necessary renovations to buildings and resources across campus. Included among them are: Westby Hall and Bozorth Hall HVAC renovation and replacement, $7.9 million; Wilson Hall window replacement, $1.03 million; Camden Bank Building renovation, phase II, $17.6 million; website rebuild, $350,000; data storage upgrade, $750,000; data warehouse expansion, $261,000; voice over internet protocol, $106,000; technology-enhanced classrooms, $101,000; information systems upgrade, $469,000; dark fiber network upgrade, $579,000; 3D imaging (CAVE) upgrade, $978,000; and swipe card system upgrades, $1.3 million.

He noted that with the integration of SOM July 1 as stipulated by the Restructuring Act, Rowan’s broadening mission enters a new phase. The University will become just the second in the nation to offer both MD- and DO-granting medical programs and, through its designation as a research university, will become eligible to create a wide range of graduate and professional degree programs.

New academic programs already approved this year in anticipation of the enactment of the act July 1 include a master's degree in pharmaceutical sciences and bachelor's and master's degrees in bioinformatics. Programs under final review include a Ph.D. and master's degree in cell and molecular biology, a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and a bachelor's degree in translational biomedical sciences. Programs in development include several bachelor's degrees, including one in biomedical art and visualization and one in biophysics.

The act also partnered Rowan with Rutgers-Camden in the creation of a College of Health Sciences. Anchored in Camden by Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU), the new college will offer programs in public health and several health professions disciplines for which New Jersey's brightest students typically leave the state to study.

The funding announcement comes on the heels of other rapid growth in just the past few years including the opening of CMSRU last summer, the creation of the South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University, and the on-going development of Rowan Boulevard.

The $300 million Rowan Boulevard project, which is quickly coming to fruition, will have a new Courtyard by Marriott hotel and conference center and new mixed use building that will be home to the College of Graduate and Continuing Education, a high-rise parking garage and ground floor retail outlets. Both are scheduled to open by fall.