Marking its rapid rise, Rowan hosts first Hooding Ceremony

Marking its rapid rise, Rowan hosts first Hooding Ceremony

Rowan celebrated its first Hooding Ceremony on Friday, May 3, 2024.

The Esbjornson Gymnasium was filled with tams and tassels, robes and colorful hoods on Friday, as Rowan University opened Commencement Week with its first-ever Hooding Ceremony

Eighty-four members of the Class of 2024 received academic hoods from their advisors, signifying the Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Education and Educational Specialist degrees, the highest academic degrees in their areas of study. 

The history-making event marked a major milestone in Rowan’s development over the past decade from a Carnegie-classified master’s university to R2 (doctoral institution with high research activity). President Ali A. Houshmand told the crowd the institution will soon achieve ranking as an R1 (doctoral institution with very high research activity).

“We are the nation's fourth fastest-growing public research university because of ambitious, brilliant people like these graduates and the expert faculty who challenge and guide them,” said President Ali A. Houshmand. “Together, we will keep driving knowledge and innovation forward.”

Rowan introduced its first doctoral program in educational leadership in 1997. In addition to the M.D. and D.O. degrees, the University now offers 15 Ph.D. programs, five tracks to the Ed.D., and the Ed.S. degree. 

Provost Tony Lowman called Rowan’s growth “astonishing and unprecedented. 

“We are an institution marked by transformation,” Lowman said. 

Dr. Graham Davis, the first to graduate with a Ph.D. from Rowan’s new program in complex biological systems, was also the first to hug his advisor, Dr. Maggie Panning Pearce, associate professor of biological and biomedical sciences in the College of Science & Mathematics.  

Even so, the emotions he felt on stage were nothing compared with what he faced months earlier while appearing before a committee of experts to defend his dissertation, “Impairment of the Glial Phagolysosomal System Drives Prion-like Propagation of Huntington's Disease.”  

“When you defend, that’s really when the emotions come out,” Davis said, during the reception following Friday’s ceremony. “Because that’s when you get up there and you pour out everything you have.”

The ceremony included graduates from the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering, the College of Education and the College of Science & Mathematics, and the Rowan-Virtua School of Translational Biomedical Engineering & Sciences, part of Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences.   

Commencement Week 2024 continues with a University-wide ceremony on Saturday, followed next week by ceremonies for each college and school. 

For more photos from Friday's event, visit Rowan's Tribute to Scholarship