On June 17, 2012, Rowan University marked the 20th anniversary of the transformational $100 million gift that Burlington County businessman and philanthropist Henry Rowan and his late wife, Betty, pledged in 1992 to then-Glassboro State College (GSC).
On Dec. 13, 2012, the University honored Henry Rowan with the unveiling of a seven-foot sculpture of him in front of Savitz Hall on Rt. 322 on the main campus in Glassboro.
For 20 years, the institution—now known as Rowan University in the Rowans' honor—has undergone changes few could have imagined two decades ago. When he made the then-unprecedented donation to a public school, Henry Rowan had a stipulation. The founder, president and CEO of Inductotherm Industries, Inc. and an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Henry Rowan asked that GSC build an engineering college in South Jersey and revitalize engineering education.
Rowan University did that with remarkable success, showing just how outstanding it was even before it graduated its first engineering class in 2000. The College of Engineering offers its hallmark engineering clinics, providing students with hands-on experiences starting in their freshman year. That approach was unusual at the time the College was founded—programs typically started hands-on work two years later—but it is widely emulated now.
- U.S. News & World Report consistently highly ranks the College and/or its programs among bachelor's/master's schools; Chemical Engineering, for instance, has been ranked in second or third place nationally for multiple years.
- Professors frequently lead national and international organizations, committees and subcommittees in their areas of specialty.
- Students regularly work on projects for the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, NASA, the U.S. Navy, state offices and Fortune 500 companies, among hundreds of organizations.
The Rowan gift did much more for the institution, however, than create a College of Engineering. It paved the way for broader initiatives, spurred other individuals and companies to donate to the school and continually attracted more and more competitive students into programs in the colleges that comprise the University. In 1992, the Rowan gift was the largest gift ever given to a public school.
"Mr. and Mrs. Rowan's gift was unheard of at the time and caused quite a stir in academic and philanthropic circles," said Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand, who came to the University as provost more than a decade after the gift was made. "To say we were—and are—simply grateful would be an understatement and a disservice to the Rowan family's generosity. Their pledge to this school has transformed it. Yes, it enabled us to start an engineering school. And that school enabled more collaborations, greater funding and indeed I believe led us to co-founding Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, among many other initiatives in the last two decades." Highlights at the University since 1992 include:
- The institution attained university status and added colleges. As of July 1, Rowan comprises nine colleges: Business, Communication & Creative Arts, Education, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, Performing Arts, Science & Mathematics, Graduate & Continuing Education and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.
- Rowan attained state research status, becoming only the second public comprehensive university in New Jersey.
- Rowan enhanced and expanded numerous programs, including the honors program endowed by Thomas N. Bantivoglio.
- Rowan founded the South Jersey Technology Park 1.5 miles from the main campus, home to 16 sponsored research labs and the Rohrer College of Business Incubator at the Samuel H. Jones Innovation Center, named for its benefactor.
- Rowan partnered with the Borough of Glassboro, SORA Holdings and Kinsley Properties on the $300 million, mixed-use Rowan Boulevard project.
- Rowan opened Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) in collaboration with Cooper University Health Care during the summer of 2012 and welcomed the medical school's first class. CMSRU is the first new four-year medical school in New Jersey in more than 35 years and the first in South Jersey.
- The University plans to integrate the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, N.J., which will make Rowan only the second school in the nation with both M.D.-and D.O.-granting medical schools under its aegis.
- The University is opening a School of Biomedical Sciences.
- Rowan plans to create a College of Health Sciences in Camden in collaboration with Rutgers—Camden.
- Nearly 22,000 new donors have invested in Rowan University, supporting scholarships, facilities, academic programs and more. Those donors include:
- The William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation (more than $13 million for the Rohrer College of Business, including scholarships and the University's first endowed chair)
- Keith and Shirley Campbell ($1.5 million for the library)
- Lawrence and Rita Salva ($1.18 million in scholarship support for the medical school and the College of Communication)
- Ric and Jean Edelman (more than $1 million for the planetarium in Science Hall and its school and community education programs)
- Ann (Buffy) Campbell ($1 million to the College of Business for an endowed chair)
- Frank DiCicco ($1 million for scholarships for math students)
- Thomas N. Bantivoglio ($1 million for the honors program)
- Samuel H. Jones ($1 million for the South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University)
- Douglas Zee (land gift valued at $1 million)
- The Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation, Inc. ($1 million to the College of Communication for an endowed chair)
- The Rowan Family Foundation (additional funds to support special programs in engineering, scholarships and the fine and performing arts)
Virginia Smith, daughter of Henry and Betty Rowan, Group vice president of Inductotherm Group and a member of the Rowan University Board of Trustees, said recently, "My father is not only pleased with the investment he and his family have made in this school but has also found it rewarding to see the profound difference this gift has made throughout the entire institution. The University has undergone an amazing transformation over the last 20 years, providing an extraordinary impact on students, faculty and staff, indeed, on the entire region of Glassboro and southern New Jersey."