In Mr. Rowan's words
From 2012 interview about the anniversary
On December 6, 2012, Mr. Rowan reflected on the 20th anniversary of his gift and the commemoration to be held on December 13, 2012, with the unveiling of the sculpture honoring him.
About giving to GSC
Education is still the single most important means of changing a person's life. It is what made the difference for me and it's critical that our investment supports superior education for as many students as possible.
I don't think of myself as a philanthropist. I made an investment in something I believe in. I challenged the people at Glassboro State to make a difference with the financial help we provided.
I hope others see what we've accomplished at the university and follow with their own support. When I visited in 1991, I knew it was a college with good fundamentals and hard-working people. We provided the means to improve opportunities and raise standards. I'm pleased to see how everyone has responded to the challenge. It's a fine institution, well regarded.
About his perspective on the gift now
It's been a very successful and enjoyable venture with the university. The progress has exceeded my expectations.
Phil Tumminia [vice president for institutional advancement in 1992] gave me confidence that our gift would promote engineering as a career. He's a real genuine guy.
The engineering building was in itself quite an accomplishment. They kept me involved in the planning and visited me in Rancocas with the designs. At first it was awful, just a plain box of a building on the athletic field. But we worked on it to make it distinctive. It had to show that it wasn't just a run-of-the-mill facility, inside and out.
I enjoy hearing from students. They generally keep me advised of what they're doing. Some send me Christmas cards and I've had a lot of e-mail this year. It's gratifying to hear from the students and their families.
About the sculpture
I wasn't keen on being cast in bronze at first, but I understand how it's a good idea for the university to commemorate what we did together.
The process was quite fascinating, measuring my features and rechecking them after each stage in the clay. It's a bit strange to see oneself in 3D.
I especially enjoyed visiting the foundry to see the bronze poured from our Inductotherm 1,000 lb. furnace. Having some of our family and Inductotherm team there to watch the pour was meaningful to me in that they don't get to see our equipment in action hardly at all.
Zenos [Frudakis] has done a lot of sculpture and I understand he was eager to do this project because the furnace that we made would melt the bronze to "make" me.
From his 1995 account of the gift
In 1995, Henry Rowan with John Calhoun Smith published a book, The Fire Within (Penton Publishing), detailing the creation and growth of his company, Inductotherm Industries, Inc., as well as his $100 million commitment to Glassboro State College.
Henry and Betty Rowan's generous gift in 1992 was the largest gift to a public higher education institution at the time. Below, excerpts from the book describe in Mr. Rowan's own words what led to the record-breaking gift as he discussed the proposition with Glassboro State College Vice President for Institutional Advancement Philip Tumminia 20 years ago.
"At first, I wasn't inclined to give. 'I'm sure your college is worthwhile, Dr. Tumminia, but isn't Glassboro State College a state institution? I'm not inclined to donate to the state. I already do that every time I pay my taxes.'
'Oh, no, Mr. Rowan. You won't be subsidizing the government,' he began. 'True, the state of New Jersey provides operating expenses, but that's just to keep the college running, and maintain the status quo.
'But we want to build the college and improve it. That's what the Development Fund is for, raising our standards.'" (Page 383)
We should be teaching people how to build things, how to create real wealth, real jobs. Maybe we should be talking about industrial engineering, not business administration.'
Only, as Glassboro didn't have an engineering school, that seemed to end the discussion. But not my meetings with Tumminia, which continued on into September of 1991. It started out as another casual get-together, until I heard myself saying, 'Phil, I'm curious, but what would you and Glassboro do with $100 million?'
Tumminia looked stunned, as the sheer magnitude of the figure sank in. 'Now remember, this is just a whim,' I reminded him." (Page 386)
"It was a quandary. I couldn't spend the money. I couldn't take it with me. I had no taste for ostentation or expensive living. There was, however, another option: I could direct it where it would do the most good for the most people.
Once one embarks on this line of thinking, of course, the possibilities are endless. Some wealthy men have endowed museums of natural history or of modern art; others, hospitals, wildlife preserves, or shelters for the homeless.
I wanted to do something consistent with my life's work. Inductotherm had never been just a way to make money; I had always wanted a company that stood for something. Integrity. Progress. Opportunity." (Page 388)
Thus, if I were to succumb to the philanthropic impulse, it seemed logical that I support the cause of education. Of course, I had no particular ties to a school like Glassboro, with the exception of that $1,500 contribution. Meanwhile, my own alma mater was in the middle of a major fund raising effort aimed at raising $750 million. But there was a big difference between MIT and Glassboro." (Pages 388-389)
"But for an alumnus of a well-known school to endow a less prestigious institution, well, it just wasn't done.
Nonetheless, I had a two-fold interest in Glassboro State College. The student body was drawn, in the main, from the state where I had lived and worked almost all my life. It was a state whose people had been good to me, my family and to Inductotherm. No doubt some of my own employees had sons and daughters and grandchildren earning degrees at the college.
Then, too, it was a no-frills kind of college, a place to roll up your sleeves and get down to work. Not unlike MIT, in that respect. Yet, how much of a difference could I make at MIT? Oh, my alma mater would have put the money to good use. Of that, I was certain. Yet, where would my money have the most impact? Where would it actually change people's lives?" (Page 389)
"The person I turned to, as my ideas crystallized, was the one who'd been my comfort and strength throughout the years, my wife. Much to my surprise, Betty took it all in stride; it was as if she had been reading my mind these past few months. 'Well, we certainly have more than we need,' she responded, after thinking it over for a few moments, 'We can't eat it, we can't wear it, we can't take it with us and, the way you and I live, we can't spend even a little of it. So I think it's a great idea.'" (Page 394)
"How would this affect Inductotherm's employees? Any funds directed to outside philanthropy would be diverted from profits I had heretofore shared with my work force, via the profit sharing trust we had established in 1957.
Only, what if a gift could benefit Inductotherm employees, as well as the college? What if a portion of the endowment were set aside for scholarships for the children of Inductotherm employees to attend Glassboro State College, with the cost of tuition, books and fees paid for out of this fund? Wasn't this—ensuring their children's future—what everyone wanted? And what could ensure a young person's lot in life more than a top-notch education?" (Page 394)
"But $100 million! Now, that was a challenge. Perhaps the biggest I had ever undertaken. To deliver on this promise would take every bit of energy and determination I possessed and would make sure that I couldn't let down. I'd be tied to my company and my job—a job I dreaded leaving, for years to come.
And so, I decided to do it." (Page 395)
The audience fell quiet as Dr. James strode to the microphone and thanked everyone for coming, then broke the momentous news: 'This morning, I'm pleased to announce that Henry and Betty Rowan and Inductotherm Industries have pledged to us a gift of $100 million.'
At this, the auditorium thundered with applause and cheers. There was another round of applause—mixed with appreciative laughter—when he noted, with deadpan good humor, 'When you receive a gift of $100 million, a simple 'Thank you' hardly seems enough. Therefore, the first thing we'll do is take the steps necessary to change the name of this college to Rowan College of New Jersey,'
So there it was. I had not only my engineering school, but also my next challenge—living up to this commitment, the commitment that would, in Dr. James' words, transform this institution from 'a small state college of moderate means into an internationally acclaimed institution of higher education." (Pages 395-396)
Betty and I also wanted to give something back to New Jersey, and we're delighted to be able to do this. We hope it goes a long way towards strengthening New Jersey in the hierarchy of states, and strengthening the values of the people in the State.'" (Page 396)
"The truth is, endowing Rowan College has been a terrifying decision for me to make. But as I've learned, it's been nothing like that. Rather than a sense of loss, my gift to the college has been a tremendous personal gain. And instead of it becoming a burden, my pledge has given new purpose to my life and revitalized my work. I've often thought as I've watched the streams of fresh molten metal pouring from my furnaces that they were casting a better life for the enormous segment of the emerging population that had not yet enjoyed the benefits of industrialization. Now I can envision a procession of bright, energetic young men and women moving out to create things of enduring value, to create and improve the world they live in.
It's exciting to drive through the college, where a new library is rising next to the old one, and see the sign of expansion and improvement everywhere. The students, too, seem to feel that they're part of something unique, and a new spirit has settled in." (Pages 405-407)