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.”