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Rowan increases push to become major academic, economic force; names Dr. Kenneth Blank new VP for Health Sciences

Rowan University President Dr. Ali Houshmand has announced the appointment of Dr. Kenneth Blank as Rowan’s first vice president for health sciences. Blank, an esteemed molecular pathologist and cancer researcher with more than 30 years of experience in research program development, technology commercialization and regional economic development, comes to Rowan from Temple University in Philadelphia, where he served as senior vice provost for research and graduate education.

The New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act, enacted by the State Legislature in early 2012, gave Rowan comprehensive research university status and paved the way for the South Jersey school to integrate the School of Osteopathic Medicine, based in Stratford, N.J., into the University.  The inaugural class of the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University started in 2012, and under Blank’s leadership Rowan will join Michigan State University as the only two institutions in the entire country to operate both M.D. and D.O. degree-granting medical schools.

The new vice president said he looks forward to integrating and building the health sciences area of the University. “There is tremendous opportunity at Rowan with the designation by the State as a research institution,” Blank said. “I’m a builder. I enjoy building things — academic programs, research programs, successful teams — and fostering economic development.”

Blank will work with Rowan’s deans and other administrators to integrate and build nationally recognized academic and research programs related to the health sciences.

Noting that Rowan is at a “critical juncture with two medical schools, state research university status and a College of Health Sciences with Rutgers-Camden on the horizon,” Houshmand said, “We anticipate developing many new programs, particularly in technology and health care fields, and forging new partnerships with business and industry. Dr. Blank has the proven expertise to help us capitalize on these opportunities for the good of our students and for South Jersey.”

Blank serves as vice chairman of the board of directors of the University City Science Center, Philadelphia, a member of the board of the Greater Philadelphia Congress of Life Sciences, and a member of the board of trustees of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. He has been a scholar of the Leukemia Society of America and is presently a fellow of the Philadelphia College of Physicians. The cancer researcher holds several patents, has received numerous grants and contracts from such organizations as the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense, and has published and presented extensively on a variety of topics. He received his B.A. from New York University and Ph.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

During his career at Temple University; Northeastern University, Boston; Drexel University; and other institutions, Blank had a track record of increasing research awards from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy and other mission-oriented federal agencies, as well as a strong record of creating alliances with businesses.

Maxine Ballen, president and CEO of the New Jersey Technology Council, Mt. Laurel, N.J., attested to Blank’s success and willingness to foster a productive working relationship with the business sector. “Ken Blank brings great depth to South Jersey, and his appointment at Rowan University will have a huge impact on our region’s economic development,” she said.

Blank is confident about Rowan’s future, “Rowan will be a major educational, research and economic force in southern New Jersey and the region. Our goal is to make sure our students receive an outstanding education and that Rowan is recognized nationally and internationally for its capabilities as an academic institution.”

Mr. Rowan, Unveiled

Watch video footage of how the Rowan Gift transformed the University

See vintage and new photos

Today Henry Rowan stands by Savitz Hall off Route 322, forever a part of the University landscape as captured in a seven-foot bronze sculpture, watching and welcoming students, faculty, visitors and friends.

Rowan University honored its largest benefactor and the man for whom it is named with the unveiling of the sculpture during a ceremony on Dec. 13, two decades after Mr. Rowan and his late wife, Betty, donated $100 million to what was then known as Glassboro State College.

“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,” Mr. Rowan said recently.

Mr. Rowan, the CEO and founder of Inductotherm Industries, Rancocas, N.J., and his family were among those who took part in the unveiling and a program that celebrated the Rowan Gift, the largest donation made to a public institution of higher education when it was given in the summer of 1992.

Sculptor Zenos Frudakis gets final approval from Henry and Lee Rowan.

Also present was world-renown sculptor Zenos Frudakis, of Glenside Pa., who crafted that statue. The sculpture was cast at Laran Bronze, Chester, Pa., the foundry that used a furnace made by Mr. Rowan’s own Burlington County-based firm on the piece. (See photos of statue at foundry.)

An important day

“Visionary men do visionary things,” said Dr. Ali Houshmand, president of Rowan University in an opening tribute to Mr. Rowan. “What they do is they see the future beyond what average people . . . do.”

For the hundreds who packed two floors of Savitz and surrounded the sculpture for the unveiling, including board members, faculty and staff, students, alumni, neighbors and friends — and for generations of students past and future — Henry Rowan is indeed a philanthropist and much more. He is a game changer. Twenty years after the Rowan Gift, the generosity and vision of Henry and Betty Rowan still are being felt across campus and across South Jersey.

Punctuated with applause, cheers and more than a few tears, the program and unveiling was a big event for the Rowan campus. It was a big event for three generations of the Rowan family who attended as well.

“This is a memorable day for all of us,” said Virginia Rowan Smith, daughter of Henry and Betty Rowan and a member of the Rowan University Board of Trustees, acknowledging “a statute that pays tribute to one man’s legacy.”

Making a difference

Smith talked about her father’s approach to business and to life. In making the gift, she said, “He wanted to make a difference in undergraduate education, especially in engineering. He used to say, ‘This country doesn’t need any more engineers. It needs more great engineers.’”

“I have been very proud,” she added of what the gift has accomplished. “It is a remarkable legacy.”

Students dressed in Rowan garb and many University faculty, staff and administrators who worked at the school circa 1992 paid homage to the man who started making industrial furnaces in his basement and went on to build the leading firm in its field and to change the face of education in South Jersey.

Twenty years ago, the announcement of the Rowan Gift during a university-wide gathering startled and excited the campus. News of that $100 million gift by a couple who had no ties to GSC also reverberated throughout the higher education and philanthropic communities nationwide. This was a first. No one had ever made so large a gift to a public school. The Rowan Gift would go on to trigger changes in Glassboro and across the country, encouraging more donations to public higher education as well as private.

A new college

The most visible change on campus — at least in the early years after the gift — was the founding of Rowan University’s College of Engineering, housed in a four-story building off Bowe Boulevard named for Mr. Rowan that includes a state-of-the art auditorium named for the late Mrs. Rowan.

It was a fitting change. When they made the donation, the Rowans had one major request: they wanted the college known primarily for teacher education up until then to create a program that revolutionized engineering education.

With remarkable success the institution honored the request by Mr. Rowan, an engineering graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The College implemented a new approach to engineering education — starting students in hands-on projects from day one of their academic career in what are called “engineering clinics.”

Almost from the start, the College earned attention, from high rankings by U.S. News & World Report (Chemical Engineering is currently third in the nation among schools that primarily offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees) to students leading teams volunteering in developing countries on water and road projects to faculty spreading the word about Rowan’s “hands-on, minds-on” education in places as far off as Kazakhstan.

The National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Navy, state organizations, Fortune 500 companies and local businesses have sponsored research at the college. Professors lead national and international professional groups. Students land jobs across the nation and enter premier engineering graduate programs, from Penn State to Stanford.

President Ali Houshmand shares a special moment with Henry Rowan and his daughter, Virginia Rowan Smith.

A major transformation

The impact of the Rowan Gift did not stop with engineering programs, however.

“The gift has now positioned us to be the prominent (higher education) institution in southern New Jersey,” Houshmand said. “Mr. Rowan’s contribution will impact the lives of a great many . . .  more than we can ever count.”

Added Rowan University Board of Trustees chairman Linda Rohrer, “It’s not just about writing a check, it’s about making a difference,” she said. “It took a lot of guts for Henry and Betty Rowan to pledge their $100 million. Henry Rowan . . . knew he could make a difference here.”

Today, directly or indirectly thanks to what the Rowans set in motion, the University:

  • Co-founded Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.
  • Plans to incorporate 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.
  • Attained state research status, becoming only the second public comprehensive university in New Jersey.
  • Anticipates creating a College of Health Sciences in Camden, N.J., in collaboration with Rutgers-Camden.
  • Founded the South Jersey Technology Park.
  • Inspired numerous new donors to contribute to Rowan University, many at the $1 million and higher level.
  • Partnered on the $300-million Rowan Boulevard redevelopment project with the Borough of Glassboro and private developers.

Henry Rowan is pleased.

“I hope others see what we’ve accomplished at the University and follow with their own support,” he recently said. “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.”

Rutgers honors College of Engineering’s Slater

Rutgers University presented the 2012 Medal of Excellence for Alumni Achievement in Academia to Dr. C. Stewart Slater, a chemical engineering professor at Rowan University.

This award is made annually to an outstanding alumnus of the University who has distinguished himself or herself in the academic field.  Slater received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in chemical and biochemical engineering from Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Slater was founding chair of Chemical Engineering at Rowan University.  As founding chair, his responsibilities included curriculum and laboratory development, hiring faculty and staff, student recruitment, and industrial relations.

Prior to joining Rowan, he was a faculty member at Manhattan College, where he was active in chemical engineering curriculum development and established a laboratory for advanced separation processes with the support of the National Science Foundation and industry.

Slater’s research and teaching interests are in separation and purification technology; green engineering and sustainable design; and investigation novel processes for interdisciplinary fields such as pharmaceutical engineering, biotechnology and green engineering.  He has authored more than 100 papers and several book chapters.  He has received research funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy and National Science Foundation (NSF) and industry.

His research interests in engineering education involve both laboratory and curriculum development.  He has held national office in several divisions of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and has been elected Fellow Member of the society.  He currently serves as chair of the Publications Board of Chemical Engineering Education journal.  He has conducted educational and research workshops for ASEE, NSF, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and NATO.

Among Slater’s many honors and awards are the Environmental Quality Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Rowan University Wall of Fame for Excellence in Teaching and Advising, ASEE’s Chester Carlson Award, George Westinghouse Award and Dow Outstanding Faculty Award.

Engineering collaboration leads to benefits for Rowan University, Army

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. by Kristen Kushiyama — Quid pro quo. That’s the relationship established by the U.S. Army and Rowan University when it comes to their collaborative research in support of the Army and training America’s future workforce.

The Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command’s communications-electronics center, or RDECOM CERDEC, has established a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, in order to work together to advance Army technologies in the areas of mission command, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance networks and systems.

Ryan Fillman and Metin Ahiskali, CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate engineers and Rowan University alumni, spearheaded a collaboration agreement between Rowan in Glassboro, N.J. and CERDEC I2WD here, in which Rowan students take courses, called clinics, in order to gain exposure to practical applications of engineering.

Typically the clinic courses align with master’s students’ and professors’ areas of research. During the course, graduate and undergraduate students test different systems applicable to Army needs and requirements with the help and guidance of professors and fellow graduate students, said Fillman.

By working with the government the university can fulfill its “hunger” for collaboration, said Dr. Shreekanth Mandayam, Rowan University associate provost for research and executive director of the South Jersey Technology Park.

“Rowan University is driven to engage with government and industry in leveraging the R&D capabilities of our faculty and benefitting our students to gain real-world experiences that will enable them to be competitive in the workplace,” said Mandayam, who noted the university also collaborates with other universities, industry members, federal and state agencies, municipalities, local governments, and entrepreneurs.

Many of the technologies students work on are directly applicable to Army programs.

One technology students have had the opportunity to work with since the Spring 2011 semester is the Army’s Remote Monitoring System, a wireless remote sentry monitoring sensor that can be left unattended for years, which sends information over far distances to Soldiers at a base station. Rowan students worked on automated calibration procedures for the RMS.

“The calibration is important in improving the direction finding accuracy of the system,” said Fillman. “Rowan’s research has improved the calibration accuracy as well as automated it.”

Students will continue working on the RMS calibration project during this school year, and a graduate student will do a thesis related to the project, said Fillman.

“The students get real world experience that will be applicable after graduation,” said Fillman.
Working with the students also gives CERDEC the chance to look at “up and comers” for possible jobs, said Mark Farwell, CERDEC I2WD Cyber ISR team lead.

“Not only does this CRADA allow I2WD to collaboratively research areas important to the Army, it also allows us the opportunity to offer these students job opportunities as they become available,” said Farwell.

The Army and university association with research and technology is beneficial not just to the organizations for the purpose of building a stronger U.S. workforce and making advancements, but to the students and faculty as well.

“When students engage with faculty in their research enterprise, they are provided with unique opportunities to expand their work experience and will enable them to compete for jobs, not only with the U.S. Army but elsewhere in government and private industry,” said Mandayam.

The feedback from students has been positive according to Dr. John Schmalzel, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rowan University.

“Students are enthusiastic about having the opportunity to work on this project,” said Schmalzel. “It involves state-of-art tools and methodologies, demonstrates the nature of the type of problems that are important to an important industry, application sector; provides the opportunity to work with engineers whose skill sets closely match theirs; and may provide opportunities for post-graduate employment.”

“This type of agreement provides an opportunity to demonstrate what students can accomplish- often exceeding expectations based on the assumed level of sophistication from junior- and senior-level engineering students,” said Schmalzel.


Rowan marks 20th anniversary of $100 million gift

On June 17, Rowan University will mark 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).

For 20 years, the institution-now known as Rowan University in their 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 just one 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 from the start, 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 places the College among the top 25 undergraduate engineering schools in the country (bachelor’s/master’s category), and several of its programs have ranked in the top 10 in their field; 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 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 more than a half-dozen colleges that comprise the University. At the time it was made, 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 Dr. 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 do 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 will comprise 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 has enhanced and expanded numerous programs, including the honors program endowed by Thomas N. Bantivoglio.
  • Rowan has partnered with the Borough of Glassboro and SORA Holdings on the $300 million, mixed-use Rowan Boulevard project.
  • Rowan will open Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) in collaboration with Cooper Health System this summer. CMSRU is the first new four-year medical school in New Jersey in three decades and the first ever in South Jersey.
  • The University will open a School of Biomedical Sciences this summer. 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 $12 million for the 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)
    • 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.”

Rowan University will mark the 20th anniversary of the Rowan gift in the fall with a formal ceremony.