Hats off to the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering Class of 2017

Hats off to the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering Class of 2017


“May the workforce be with you.”

“College is like a cross-linked tripolymer.”

“Never accept limits imposed by others. – Henry M. Rowan.”

When Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering students graduate, it’s not without sharing a message or two, right there, on the tops of their heads.

In a ceremony on May 11 peppered with applause, exhortations to change the world and the presentation of graduates, many joined Matthew Paugh (Civil & Environmental Engineering, Staten Island, New York), Harrison Hawkins (Chemical Engineering, Medford) and Rachel Adams (Chemical Engineering, Chichester, Pennsylvania), above, respectively, in having a thing or two to say, facing skyward.

Dean Kullmann (CEE, Rockaway, New Jersey) wrote “I am Rowan Civil” on his cap and added a yellow hard hat, saw, pliers. Anthony Horvath (ChemE, Manalapan) included a heat cycle and more. Lucas Puentes (Mechanical Engineering, Hammonton) featured legs from a robot and a solar-powered propeller. And Philip Baillie (ChemE, Cherry Hill), well he had this to say about two weeks from now: “What do I care? I’m getting married.” (A Rowan Engineering degree definitely will come in handy!)

Fun and irreverence aside, the messages of the day from the student speaker, administrators and special guests highlighted the students’ achievements, the College’s and University’s growth, and predictions for the future.

Commencement speaker Barbara Kushner, CEO of New York City-based engineering and construction management firm Armand Corporation, related her own story of a humble background and the combination of restlessness, optimism, impatience and personal dissatisfaction that drove her. She challenged the graduates to follow strong ethical codes.  “You will impact many, many others in a responsible way . . . Start that today,” said Kushner, whom the College presented with an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree. (The College presented the Medal of Excellence in Alumni Achievement to Bo Niland, most recently CEO and co-founder of Harpoon Medical, Baltimore.)

“You have demonstrated momentum from the start of your academic career here. You have been the picture of energy individually and collectively—a true body in motion,” said Dr. Ali Houshmand, president. “And as a fellow engineer, I know what it takes to pursue an engineering degree and complete it . . . This is an Ivy League admission college.”

Rowan University Board of Trustees member Virginia Rowan Smith applauded the graduates, noting they fulfilled dreams of her late father, University benefactor Henry M. Rowan. “You are ready to undertake new engineering challenges, lead new teams, even start your own businesses. You are ready to develop solutions, improve technologies—you are ready to change our world.”

Added Dr. Anthony Lowman, dean, addressing the first group he welcomed to the College as freshmen, “You are truly a remarkable group of graduates. To the parents and loved ones, you have outstanding family members here, friends and loved ones graduating here today.” He said the class was the biggest ever: more than 50 master’s students and 297 undergraduates. He asked that they follow the philosophy of Mr. Rowan, Kushner and Niland to eschew the status quo.

Student speaker Alexis Basantis likened the college experience to a story, with settings, characters and plot, with conflicts and with supporting characters who made a difference. “So learn from what you’ve experienced so far, turn the page and start writing your next chapter. I’m sure it’s going to be a great read,” she said.