New business: Ground broken on new Rohrer College of Business building

New business: Ground broken on new Rohrer College of Business building

Rohrer College of Business Groundbreaking

Minutes after Rowan University leaders and state, county and local officials broke ground on a new, $63.2 million building for the Rohrer College of Business (RCB) on Friday, Dec. 12, University President Ali A. Houshmand encouraged students to join him for a little bit of shoveling.

“Keep digging!” Houshmand exclaimed as the students, members of the RCB Dean’s Student Advisory Board, wielded shovels and excitedly tossed dirt aside.

The president’s good-natured kidding cut to the heart of the matter for senior finance major Jessica Carrasco of Bridgeton. Whether it’s participating in a groundbreaking ceremony or working hard in classes and internships, students at Rowan always are expected to keep working, keep digging, keep achieving, Carrasco said.

“Our professors are always pushing us. They want us to go far. They expect us to succeed,” said Carrasco.

Building Our Future

A new, four-story, 96,500-square-foot home for RCB will go even further to help students achieve their dreams. But the building on Route 322 next to Westby Hall also will help RCB and the University make an even bigger impact on the future of South Jersey, University and state and county officials agreed.

Houshmand was joined by State Senate President Steve Sweeney, Congressman Donald Norcross, Board of Trustees Chairman Linda Rohrer, Assemblywoman Celeste Riley, Gloucester County Freeholder Lyman Barnes, RCB Interim Dean Daniel J. McFarland, Gloucester county Improvement Authority Acting Executive Director George Strachan, and Rowan Senior Vice President for Facilities, Planning and Operations Donald Moore during the official groundbreaking ceremony.

Expected to be complete in spring of 2017, the RCB building is funded in part by $117 million awarded to the University through New Jersey’s Building Our Future Bond Act. Passed by voters in 2012, the referendum is funding nearly $46 million of the project, as well as a new building for Rowan’s College of Engineering, an addition to the Rowan at Camden building, and many other projects, Houshmand said.

Passage of the referendum in 2012 allowed state officials to borrow $750 million to fund the construction and renovation of facilities at New Jersey public and private colleges. It was the first referendum dedicated to construction and renovation of higher education facilities in two decades.

Rowan received the second highest amount of funding in the state from the referendum. The building will provide the University with space to double RCB enrollment to 2,000 as the University strives to increase enrollment to 25,000 students within the decade, Houshmand noted.

Vital support

“With vital support from the state, this building will allow us to improve our ability to fulfill our responsibility to attract the best students and professors to Rowan. It’s a spectacular facility by any measure,” Houshmand said.

Sweeney and Norcross both noted that increasing Rowan’s enrollment fills a demand and need for the state’s students to stay in New Jersey to earn their degrees and establish their careers.

“It’s not just a building,” Sweeney said. “It’s a lifetime of opportunities for the students to get educated here.”

“The seats need to be here in South Jersey,” Norcross added, noting that state officials want to keep students in state to study. “We want to make sure our investment comes home.”

Four pillars

The new building supports the University’s four pillars, which, Houshmand said, “guide every one of our decisions at the University.” They include increasing access, improving quality, maintaining affordability and serving as an economic engine for South Jersey.

“This building will allow us to double enrollment in one of our most popular majors, thus increasing access,” Houshmand said. “It will couple business leaders with faculty and our students, thus helping us improve the quality of our offerings as well as providing solutions to the business community.

“Finally, it will enable us to graduate some of the best business students in the region, which will have a far-reaching impact on all sectors, whether it’s education, engineering, medicine or the arts.”

Rohrer, a trustee of the William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation, which presented the University with a $10 million gift a decade ago to expand the University’s business curriculum, admitted the groundbreaking was special for her. In supporting the College of Business, the foundation honored areas her late father held dear, including supporting South Jersey and impacting education, she said. William G. Rohrer was a distinguished businessman, community leader, philanthropist, and government official.

But Rohrer said she could never have imagined that the foundation’s investment would help put the college on a path to a new, $63.2 million building.

“It’s a heck of a return--a 16 percent return,” Rohrer said.

About the building

Designed with RCB’s approach to business education in mind, the building includes: common areas to encourage collaboration among students and South Jersey business leaders; a “hatchery,” where students can develop their own entrepreneurial ventures; and the Center for Business Professionalism, where students will sharpen their job search skills and employers can conduct interviews with job-seekers.

Altogether, it includes 16 classrooms, seven conference rooms, 10 specialty spaces, 15 administrative offices and 70 faculty offices. KSS Architects of Princeton, in partnership with Goody Clancy Architects of Boston, is the architect, while Joseph Jingoli & Son, Inc. of Camden is the construction manager. The Gloucester County Improvement Authority is the project developer.

“The building was designed specifically to enhance Rohrer’s unique approach to business education. It’s an approach that is built upon collaboration, small class sizes, project-based learning, problem solving, teamwork and entrepreneurship,” McFarland said.

“The building will give our college much-needed facilities to enhance and build upon our educational hallmarks…and to enhance strong partnerships with business leaders throughout the region.”

More to come

Houshmand promised those gathered for the groundbreaking that Rowan will continue to move forward on new projects and initiatives that will serve students and drive the South Jersey economy.

That’s exciting to hear, said Alexcia Mazahreh, a junior finance major with a concentration in the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Program.

“To me, that represents an increase in the value of our degrees in the future,” Mazahreh said.

From the ground up: In the photo above, Rowan President Ali Houshmand (center) and Board of Trustees Chairman Linda Rohrer (fourth from left) are joined at the groundbreaking with (from left) RCB Interim Dean Daniel J. McFarland, Gloucester County Freeholder Lyman Barnes, Congressman Donald Norcross, State Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assemblywoman Celeste Riley, Gloucester County Improvement Authority Acting Executive Director George Strachan and Rowan Senior Vice President for Facilities, Planning and Operations Donald E. Moore.