Commencement 2024 honors graduates, a huge University milestone, and special alumni

Commencement 2024 honors graduates, a huge University milestone, and special alumni


Commencement at Rowan University is always a very big deal, but this year it’s positively huge, coming as it does amid the Centennial celebration.

“This is our biggest celebration in Rowan’s historic centennial year!” proclaimed Provost Tony Lowman during Rowan’s main university-wide Commencement ceremony May 4. “We’re stepping into a bright future with endless potential!”

Commencement Week runs through Thursday, May 9, with college-level ceremonies all week on University Green. (See a pictorial Commencement View package here. The May 4 program was also livestreamed. Watch video here.)

The main University ceremony in Coach Richard Wackar Stadium celebrated the achievements of 5,652 students including 4,225 undergraduates, 1,109 graduate students, 208 students from Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine, and 110 from Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.

Addressing the graduates, Rowan President Ali Houshmand noted that they’re likely all eager to launch into their careers but suggested, for now, to simply enjoy the moment.

“It’s good and entirely appropriate to pause and celebrate,” he said.

The program featured a keynote address by nationally acclaimed personal financial advisor Ric Edelman ’80, the bestowing of an Honorary Doctor of Entrepreneurship on Joseph Cosgrove ’00, and the recognition of writer Janet Hamill ’67 as Distiniguished Alumna.


An AI assisted speech

Edelman is a New York Times bestselling author and perhaps the best-known financial advisor in America. He, along with his wife, Board of Trustees member Jean Edelman ’81, founded Edelman Financial Services after college, a company that in 2018 acquired Financial Engines to form Edelman Financial Engines and today manages more than $270 billion in assets.

The Edelmans’ generosity has helped propel Rowan with such key initiatives as the Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park & Museum, the Ric and Jean Edelman Planetarium and the Edelman Scholars fund, which supports top students in the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts.

Addressing the graduates, Edelman implored them to embrace the wonders of technology, from artificial intelligence (AI) to robotics to “DLT,” distributed ledger technology.

“When you’re given a task or a goal… thanks to today’s innovations, you can get the job done better than anyone in the history of the world,” Edelman said.

He noted that, while his generation grew up on television, the graduates never knew life without the internet, and said those who embrace the new technologies are destined to go further, faster, than those who do not.

To emphasize the importance of technology, especially AI in today’s marketplace and classroom, and how he embraces it, Edelman read a poem about tech. When he finished, he surprised his listeners by telling them ChatGPT wrote it.

“Your education is not over,” he said. “It’s now about life-long learning.”

The program also included an address by Student Government Association President Brianna Reagan, whose emotional and heartfelt message spoke to students who may not know what their next step is.

“I don’t know my exact path,” acknowledged Reagan, a journalism major. “Even if you don’t know your exact path, most of you know what you don’t want to do, and that’s just as important.”

The class, which began during the pandemic, experienced a trauma unlike any of almost every class to come before them, and Reagan said those experiences will only make individuals stronger.

“You obliterated obstacles large and small (and are) already a success,” she said.


More celebrated alumni, and a valuable surprise

Cosgrove, a 2000 graduate of the Rohrer College of Business (RCB) who became Rowan’s newest Board of Trustees member April 10, is president, chief executive officer and board member of Colorado-based Leiters Health, a provider of compounded medications and pharmacy services.

Rowan’s Distinguished Alumnus in 2022, Cosgrove is also an advisory board member and Entrepreneur in Residence for the RCB.

Hamill is a prolific poet and author who’s been nominated for some of the greatest awards in letters, including the Pushcart Prize and the William Carlos Williams Prize.

Friends since her days at then-Glassboro State College with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Patti Smith, who was present to support her, Hamill charmed the students, parents, staff and administrators around her with recollections of campus in the 1960s, clearly enthralled to be back.

“I can’t believe you’re giving this award to a poet,” she said with a smile.


Five lucky grads

Every candidate for graduation who registered by April 5 to participate in the Saturday ceremony was entered into a drawing to win at least $2,500 donated as gifts. Funding was provided by:  

  • Cosgrove and his wife, Milissa, who gave two gifts of $2,500 each
  • Zallies ShopRite of Glassboro—$2,500
  • AAA of South Jersey—$2,500
  • and Rowan’s campus catering partner, Gourmet Dining—$2,500

Commencement Week 2024 launched Friday, May 3, with the University’s first Hooding Recognition Ceremony & Reception for Ed.D., Ed.S. and Ph.D. graduates.

For more information and a full schedule of ceremonies, see Rowan’s Commencement 2024 webpage.