Rowan hosts grand re-opening of revamped Edelman Planetarium

Rowan hosts grand re-opening of revamped Edelman Planetarium

Share

Close to 100 people left Rowan University for Mars recently, and almost another 100 watched them blast off from Glassboro for a journey through the universe.

That’s figurative, of course.

The “astronauts” were actually students, faculty and staff, and donors who enjoyed a presentation on the night sky and a program on dark matter as part of the grand re-opening of the Jean and Ric Edelman Planetarium on Nov. 14.

This fall, the College of Science & Mathematics, home to the 14-year-old planetarium, upgraded equipment and software that opened the door to new programming for the University community, K-12 students and others from throughout South Jersey. The upgrade includes a digital planetarium system that features three graphics computers, full-featured digital planetarium software with an extensive library of models and lessons, an Xbox controller, a virtual reality system and more.

The Edelmans, who graduated from Rowan in the 1980s and are well-known for their financial services firm and philanthropy, donated $1 million toward the planetarium at its start and more funds to sponsor young students to attend shows there.

Both were on hand at the grand re-opening for a brief ceremony; the new programs presented by the planetarium director, Amy Barraclough; and a reception.

Dr. Ali Houshmand, president of Rowan, referred to them as a “Renaissance couple” who “invested their wealth in making the lives (of so many youths) better for generations to come.” He noted that the Edelmans, who also contributed $25 million to the fossil park that bears their name in nearby Mantua Township, have “done wonders for the University” in the areas of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

Jean Edelman said that Rowan is her and her husband’s home, and that made it an excellent place to support. “I think life is about making an impact,” she said, noting there was no better place to do that than at the University.

Ric Edelman said supporting the planetarium – as well as the well-known fossil park – is important for the future. “We need to keep our country number one as the global economic power,” he said. He noted that the only way to do that is to continue to encourage people to excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, and the best way to interest people in pursuing such fields is to “get them when they’re young.”

According to the dean of Science & Mathematics, Dr. Cristian Botez, 32,000 guests visited the planetarium last year, including 13,000 students who attended shows for free via the program the Edelmans established to cover admission costs for school field trips. Barraclough said the recent upgrades to the facility would not have been possible without the Edelmans’ support.