Message from President Ali Houshmand: Sharing compassion and providing support

Message from President Ali Houshmand: Sharing compassion and providing support


The last 24 hours have been a trying time for the University community. As you may know, at about noon yesterday a male student fell from the parking garage on Rowan Boulevard near the Barnes & Noble Bookstore. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

Last night, more than 75 students and staff had an important discussion about wellness issues, resources and professionals we have in place to help students.

The discussion encouraged everyone to speak openly of mental health issues so Rowan can continue to address students’ concerns about wellbeing. This is a conversation we will keep pursuing as we face what has been a national crisis.

We understand the most recent news has caused anxiety, anger and frustration which are often reflected on social media. Although social media is a good platform for expressing thoughts and feelings immediately, it also can be a place where rumors take root and misunderstandings spread and grow.

Based on our discussions last night, as well as what we’ve seen on social media and feedback we’ve received, it is important to clarify the following points:

  • Out of respect for students and their families and to comply with privacy laws, the University cannot always be forthcoming about details. We understand that withholding details can be disturbing and seem as though the University is not being transparent, but we are bound by the wishes of families and legal constraints.
  • We have had three students die by suicide this semester, but we also have lost several other members of the University community due to other causes. While even one death is one too many, so many losses in such a short time have been shocking.
  • Counselors are available to students 24/7. When a student calls or goes to the Wellness Center, they meet one-on-one with a counselor who assesses the level of crisis the student is 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.
  • During the past six years we have tripled the number of counselors at the Glassboro campus. While our current level of 15 counselors puts us at the high end of the national standard of one professional for every 1,000 to 1,500 students, we are concluding searches for three more professionals who will join our staff at the beginning of next semester to provide even more capacity. Other counselors serve our campuses in Camden and Stratford.
  • In addition to the services we provide through the Wellness Center, there is a wide variety of programs and services provided by units throughout the university, particularly throughout the Student Affairs departments, which we’ll review on Monday evening and share in subsequent e-mails.

As I noted in yesterday’s update, on Monday, Dec. 9, we will gather for a public discussion at 7 p.m. in Chamberlain Student Center Eynon Ballroom. The regularly scheduled Student Government Association meeting will be devoted to bringing together students, faculty and staff to discuss concerns about mental health, resources and grief.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and suggestions. While we will continue to monitor social media, we encourage you to email mailto: with your concerns.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please go to the Wellness Center and ask to speak with a counselor or call the Wellness Center at 856-256-4333 (on the main campus call 64333). Counselors can be reached 24 hours a day at 856-256-4922.

As president, I am determined to do everything possible to serve our university community, especially in times of crisis. As a father, I am moved with compassion for each person who struggles. I implore those who need help to ask for it and for everyone to speak and act with kindness as we move through this difficult time and beyond.


Ali A. Houshmand