Board of Trustees approves amendment to boost economic development at Technology Park


A resolution, approving an amendment to the operations agreement and operating policies between Rowan University and the South Jersey Technology Park (SJTP), was approved Wednesday by the Rowan Board of Trustees.

The amendment focuses on a new initiative called “Rowan Innovations” and will allow the SJTP to further pursue its goal of economic development. Until now, said development has only been done through the leasing and development of real estate, but the SJTP will now be allowed to offer services and to hire employees, enabling it to spin out businesses from ongoing research projects taking place at the site and within the university.

“What this resolution allows us to do is to actually offer technology services and to hire personnel,” said Shreekanth Mandayam, Rowan’s Vice President of Research and the Executive Director of the SJTP.

Because research conducted by the university is currently funded in part through sponsorship by the federal and state government, it is under obligation to make its inventions and technology available to the public taxpayers, who are actually funding the research, under the Bayh-Dole Act, Mandayam said. The amendment sets a framework that enables these researchers to get their technology to market and into the public’s hands.

“We were allowed to [create businesses already], but if you don’t have the framework, if you can’t hire employees, then who’s going to do it?” Mandayam said. “[Now] if there’s a music faculty member, for instance, who on the side wants to start a music consulting business, we will enable that to happen. Why should that business be elsewhere?”

As part of the resolution, the university will create the Division of Rowan Innovations. “Rowan Innovations” is the name of the concept which uses those new businesses to support Rowan’s research centers, incentivizes participation in consulting and other business endeavors, and which engages students in real-world projects, according to the resolution.

The board also approved a separate item which increased the university’s lease of 19,950 square feet of space at the Samuel Jones Innovation Center, to 22,789 square feet. The additional square footage is space to be made available on the center’s second floor.

During the meeting, President Ali Houshmand gave a preview of the expected tuition and other price increases for next year. The board cannot take action to approve the prices until next month when the board receives its budgetary information from the state, but Houshmand said the price of tuition is expected to increase by 1.92 percent. If true, Houshmand will once again have held to his promise not to increase tuition past the rate of inflation.

“I’m happy to say that based on our projection for revenues and expenses for next year, we are going to remain true to our commitment that we are not going to increase undergraduate tuition and fees of [sic] beyond the rate of inflation,” Houshmand said. “Nor do we under any circumstance cut our academic affair resources.”

Following the announcement, Student Government Association President-Elect Daniel Cardona commended Houshmand on keeping his promise thus far.

“In 2008, tuition and fees increased 7.5 percent, while in 2014 the rise was zero percent, which was a fantastic job,” Cardona said. “I just wanted to acknowledge and applaud [the president] for how good of a job [he’s] doing in keeping college affordable for students.”

The board approved a host of resolutions adding new degrees and minors to various colleges among the university as well. These degrees and programs included a new Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in geology, a B.A. in literacy studies, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in biomedical art and visualization, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in community health advocacy and education, a B.S. in geology and a minor in chemical engineering.

“It is remarkable how our faculty and our departments these days are proposing the kinds of programs which are very much in line with the needs of the society,” Houshmand said.

In other news:

  • Rowan Senate member Bill Friend presented a senate resolution stating the opinion that the president’s new house be in Glassboro, not in Mullica Hill as was recently announced. The Rowan University Foundation purchased Houshmand a 5,700 square foot, $925,000 home in January.
  • A resolution was passed to fund the replacement of the Rowan University Core Network, which connects computers in buildings all over campus. Without the replacement, new buildings like Holly Pointe Commons will be unable to connect. The budget for the project is not to exceed $980,000.
  • Student Trustee Kunal Patel was presented a commendation by Houshmand for his service to the board and the university at large.