Update: Rowan University (NJ)
Rowan University is the fastest-growing public college in New Jersey as well as one of fastest-growing in the United States. In 1992, the year that South Jersey industrialist Henry Rowan bestowed a $100 million gift on then Glassboro State College, this school had 9,500 students. Today, it has over 16,000; more than 13,000 are undergraduates. I attended a recent open house in order to provide an update. You’re also invited to check out my Rowan University Pinterest page.
Henry Rowan set one condition for his gift: that the beneficiary establish a prominent engineering school. It did 21 years ago, and also expanded Business, Health Care and Science programs. Rowan University also has schools of allopathic and osteopathic medicine, rare for any school of any size. The school had already been well-recognized in Communications, Education, Music and Theatre before Mr. Rowan’s gift, and it still is.
This gift has done much good for Rowan University, attracting other gifts and setting the school on a direction to become a more comprehensive university for New Jersey. It has also become a more residential campus, with some of the nicer housing options one will find at any college in the country. The Holly Pointe Commons, which opened for more than 1,400 students this year, is state-of-the-art in residence life, as are the newer apartment complexes. The university has its own fossil quarry as well as a technology business park.
Rowan University offers many of the programs found at Rutgers-New Brunswick as well as some that are not. It also has an Honors College that would attract students who would be in the upper quarter (versus the top four percent) of the flagship state school’s admit pool. Yet it can offer a more personal undergraduate experience over the critical first two years for less money. That’s especially helpful in the more competitive majors in business, the sciences and engineering. Career development is also improving. Most recently, just over half of the recent graduating classes had either a full-time job offer or acceptances into graduate and professional schools before receiving their degrees.
Rowan University, like any college, is not perfect. While the university has worked very hard to improve the quality of life on campus, investing over $300 million into downtown redevelopment, the surrounding off-campus community offers little for college students, except less expensive housing for juniors and seniors. Parking has become such a serious problem on campus that resident freshman and sophomores will not be allowed to have cars beginning next year. Downtown Glassboro offers nothing close to the shopping and entertainment options one might find near Rutgers-New Brunswick or the University of Delaware, nor does it offer the mass transit options of a larger city such as Newark.
New Jersey’s college students prefer to have cars more than most. The Garden State is not a place where there are super-sized cities such as New York or Philadelphia. But those who can overlook the inconvenience of doing without a car for their first two years can get an excellent education at Rowan.
The Report Card for Rowan University
- Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: C/B
- Freshmen Retention: B+
- Costs: B+
- Curriculum: A
- Community: B
- Comforts: B+
- Connections: B+ (New York and Philadelphia area)
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