Benefactor Henry Rowan, 92, passes away

Henry Rowan and his wife Betty Rowan gifted $100 million to then Glassboro State College in 1992. Rowan passed away on Dec. 9, 2015. Photo Courtesy from Rowan University Publications

By: Kyle Sullender and Ethan Stoetzer

Rowan University benefactor Henry Rowan passed away at the age of 92, yesterday evening, according to Lauren Trimble, Inductotherm manager of corporate communications. Rowan founded the Rancocas-based company in 1953.

“It is with deepest regret and a heavy heart we announce that Mr. Rowan, or “Hank” as he was affectionately known in the industry, passed away peacefully last night at age 92,” said a press release from the company. “His contribution to his employees, customers, the local and global community, and the foundry industry at large will carry on for generations to come.”

Rowan and his wife, Betty Rowan, gifted $100 million to then Glassboro State College in 1992, aiding in the foundation of the nationally ranked engineering school, and later becoming the namesake for the institution. At the time, it was the largest gift ever given to a public college.

“Henry Rowan’s remarkable generosity shaped the University into what it is today, and I have no doubt we will come to see he indeed has helped transform our entire region,”said Rowan President Dr. Ali A. Houshmand, according to a release published to the university homepage. “The impact Mr. Rowan has made is incalculable, and he has touched many lives because of a desire to change engineering education and give a small school in South Jersey a chance to prove itself,”

Before his pledge to the institution, Rowan had no connection to Glassboro State College. He said simply that he was “intrigued” by the small university, and he knew that his gift would make a difference, according to a profile published in Rowan Magazine in 1997.

“His vision for and commitment to higher education has had and will continue to have a profound impact on the State of New Jersey,” Gov. Chris Christie said, according to the university’s release. “He has made a difference in the lives of individual students and in our state.”

In 2012, a bronze, seven-foot statue of Rowan was unveiled facing Route 322 outside of Savitz Hall. It was the 20th anniversary of his gift to the school.

“I consider it an honor to build on Hank’s dream by helping this University grow and solve some of our region’s biggest challenges,” chairman of the Rowan University Board of Trustees, Linda Rohrer, said, according to the release.

Rowan also founded Inductotherm, one of the world’s leading companies in induction technology, in 1953 with his wife, Betty, who passed away in 1997. The company currently has facilities in 19 different nations around the world.

“His contributions continue to promote change,” the Inductotherm press release said. “His employees, both past and present, are proud to have known him and they continue to carry on the core values he has instilled in each of us. Mr. Rowan once stated, ‘I want to leave Inductotherm in a position to continue and to grow. The most excitement I’ve had is to take a little company and help them grow into a leading world company.'”

According to his obituary, services will not be held until after the first of January. Rowan University will also hold a memorial service at a later date.

The Rowan family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Rowan’s name to the American Foundry Society and the Lake George Land Conservancy.

“We have lost a champion of innovation and philanthropy, but Henry Rowan’s spirit will forever encourage our vision, animate our work and prompt us to make a difference in others’ lives,” President Houshmand said in an email sent to university students and faculty.

Stay tuned for more details to follow.