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Dr. Herman D. James, 1984-1998
Dr. Herman D. James became the institution's fifth president in 1984. Under his leadership, the college achieved university status and capitalized on a $100 million gift from Henry and Betty Rowan.
Dr. Herman D. James, 1984-1998Born in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, James was the eighth of nine children and moved to the mainland in 1952, settling with his family in Harlem. He was accepted at Tuskegee University in Alabama, where he became a civil rights activist and president of the student body in 1964.
James earned a bachelor of science in education from Tuskegee Institute, a master of arts in sociology from St. John's University in New York and a doctorate of philosophy in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh. He became an educator and held administrative and teaching positions at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Massachusetts at Boston and California State University, Northridge. He joined Rowan as its academic vice president in 1982.
A highlight of James' tenure as president was in 1992, when Henry Rowan, the president and CEO of Inductotherm Industries, Inc., and his wife Betty, pledged to give $100 million to the institution. At the time, it was the largest gift ever made to a public college or university in the nation. The Board of Trustees changed the name of Glassboro State College to Rowan College in 1992 to honor the Rowans and their generosity. In 1997, the institution was renamed Rowan University after it achieved university status.
James capitalized on the Rowans' gift, even though it was made over 11 years. Besides leading the college to university status, it was under James' tenure that the institution established a doctorate in education, which was the first doctorate offered by a New Jersey state college. During his presidency, the institution created a College of Engineering, expanded the Department of Communications into the College of Communication, opened a $16.8 million library, an $8.6 million Recreation Center and completed a $26 million engineering building.
It was also under James' leadership that the University improved the condition of its residence halls and campus as well as its curriculum. Rowan is now recognized as one of the leading comprehensive, public institutions in the state and region. It is no longer a commuter school, but a residential campus, largely because of James' leadership. Sports at the institution thrived during James' tenure. Teams won several conference championships, went to the NCAA playoffs on several occasions and two teams won national championships.
Other accomplishments during James' presidency include: Doubling the number of minority students and faculty, adopting a new mission statement and a strategic five-year plan, hiring 203 faculty members, improving the image of the University and increasing applications by 45 percent. He used the Rowans' gift to attract other private donors, who gave millions of dollars to the institution.
James resigned the presidency in September 1998 after 15 years. He retired as a university-wide distinguished professor in 2007.
The home of the College of Education was named Herman D. James Hall in his honor in April 2012.