Message from President Ali Houshmand: Sharing pain, pledging progress

Message from President Ali Houshmand: Sharing pain, pledging progress


In my 45 years in higher education, the string of tragic losses this semester has been the most difficult thing I’ve experienced, both as an educator and as an individual. My heart is heavy with the struggles of so many students and others who bravely shared their grief, frustration, anger, questions and suggestions at a Monday meeting attended by more than 400. All evening, we saw and heard the intensity of emotion, as well as students’ and employees’ strong commitment to do better for those around us.

As the meeting went on, I became more hopeful and confident that we, as a community, can respond with shared hope, strength and effective resources. Our goal is to reshape the conversation about mental health, the stresses of life and the responsibility and opportunity we have—as peers and professionals—to influence and care for others at pivotal moments.

While each of us process distress and difficult questions individually, we are surrounded by students who are looking for answers, too. It became apparent, especially during Monday’s meeting, that many in our community lack information about existing resources. Over the coming days, weeks and months, we will share more information about opportunities for training, the availability of longstanding programs and the start of new initiatives to support students. 

Care for well-being already goes far beyond the Wellness Center and we will continue to extend the reach of resources through collaboration among the Office of the Provost, the Division of Student Affairs, the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, the Student Government Association and others. These organizations will lead our discussions and efforts to respond with thoughtfulness and purpose.

To that end, I invite the entire Rowan community to rethink how we can improve life for 21st century students and help build a foundation for lifelong well-being and fulfillment. We will have more public forums in the spring, and we hope you join us to discuss short-term needs and solutions, as well as long-term change. We will approach both fundamental and incremental plans with courage and conviction. We can do no less. 

Our community is stronger because of kindness, especially in difficult times. Thank you for your concern. Even the smallest gesture of compassion toward those around you can make a difference.

Very truly yours, 

Ali A. Houshmand, Ph.D.


P.S.—Please take a few moments to review the following facts and resources available to our entire University community. We will share much more in the coming weeks. 


Everyone can contribute to a student’s well-being

The Wellness Center is a fully integrated health and wellness facility. Resources include: Student Health Services, Counseling & Psychological Services, Alcohol & Other Drug Services, Emergency Medical Services and Healthy Campus Initiatives.

While the Wellness Center’s counselors are seen as the primary solution to many students’ needs, counseling is only one component of overall well-being. Everyone in the Rowan community can contribute to students’ well-being, and take advantage of the programming and resources offered throughout the University, including:

  • Rowan Thrive, a program that explores the six dimensions of well-being
  • Rowan Cares, a group that is trained to work with individuals who may be experiencing difficulty coping with their environment or a life circumstance
  • RU a Lifesaver, a suicide prevention program
  • Green Dot, a bystander intervention program aimed to reduce power-based personal violence on our campus

Programs and services all across Rowan—from the Office of Career Advancement to the Rec Center and so many more—offer opportunities for students to find their purpose and their connections to our community.

Helping and guiding students
Rowan counselors are available to students 24/7. When students call or go to the Wellness Center, they meet one-on-one with counselors who assess the level of crisis students are experiencing. Based on that session, the counselor makes a plan for the student, which may include anything from health and wellness strategies to attending group counseling sessions, additional individual sessions and/or referral to outside specialists. Everyone has a personalized plan, which has eliminated the wait lists that some students experienced in years past. 

Where to turn for help if you or someone you know needs it

  • Rowan counselors available 24/7 at 856-256-4333.
  • Text “Start” to 741741 or call (1-800-273-TALK) to connect with our partners at the Jed Foundation 24/7. 
  • Dial 9-1-1 or 856-256-4911 on campus for any emergency.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK) for a free and confidential conversation.
  • One possible alternative to seeing a counselor is Rowan’s Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), a free and private digital platform of tools and materials to help people conquer day-to-day struggles around general stressors.
  • Many in the Rowan community benefit from faith-based resources affiliated with the Interfaith & Spiritual Exploration Center.