Rowan’s University Assembled Brought Questions and Cause for Celebration

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On Friday, Oct. 14, President Ali Houshmand and other Rowan University leadership hosted University Assembled in the Eynon Ballroom. The assembly covered topics like faculty tenure, food, enrollment and awards.

For the fall semester, Rowan received a record high of 38,279 applications; a 229% increase. There are students from 34 different states and 14 countries represented. There are 19,568 students currently enrolled in the fall semester. Rowan has more than 4,500 transfer and first-time freshmen in the Fall ‘22 semester.  

In the 2022 fiscal year (FY), employee growth went up to 4,078 compared to 3,964 in 2021.

Even though employment is up at Rowan, the school is seeing faculty resigning and retiring. 

A faculty member asked if President Houshmand would address the large number of nontenured faculty who have resigned due to bullying and misconduct by administrators and increasing workloads.

Houshmand stated that he did some investigation and specifically asked his colleagues to help him with the answer. 

“The notion that we’re trying to get rid of people or make them miserable is really unacceptable,“ said Houshmand. “There are unfortunately sometimes constraints on what we can do and how far we can go. Sometimes, we may not be able to be successful, but I want you to know it’s not because due to lack of effort. It is not because we ignore things.“

Houshmand added that faculty are leaving for a plethora of reasons. 

“The employment situation is such as there are millions of jobs available. They could go because they wanted to go to a place they want to be tenured. They could go because they want to go to these industries to get more benefits,” said Houshmand. “So many people retire during this period. They said it’s not worth it.”

He stated that the turnover number is 50% less than the competition, the national average. 

Houshmand even asked the audience of faculty, “Is there anyone in here who is worried about their job because of budgeting?”

No one in the audience raised their hand. 

Some faculty raised awareness that they are unsatisfied with “the system” for the faculty regarding their task and responsibilities. 

“My department secretary has been there for more than 25 years. Her job is so much harder than it used to be even since I started being chairman, things that used to take an afternoon now take days, weeks, and even months,” said a professor who attended the meeting. 

Houshmand agreed that changes need to be made.

“We didn’t really have processes and procedures in here. Things are just done. We have been cleaning and there is much to be done,” said Houshmand.

Houshmand understands that there are problems at the university. 

“So, when people say that is this deficiency in here or weakness in here, I’m not going to get defensive about it because I know it is,” said Houshmand. “I want you to be a part of the solution. I do not want [it] to be me.” 

“This is [more] your home than it is mine,” said Houshmand.

A goal for the school is to become an R1 University. An R1 University has high research activity and is considered organizationally complex and prestigious.

This caused some worry in the audience as a faculty member spoke up during the assembly.

“You don’t get to R1 unless the faculty are brought in. The faculty can’t succeed without our frontline staff and then there’s a whole university behind the faculty and the staff that are front facing,” said a faculty member in the audience.

Rowan student Morgan Antisell sent in a question asking about the food that the university provides and how Rowan will continue to expand the cultures represented within the food options.

“Gourmet food is, of course, [is] critical. Students pay a lot of money for it,” said Houshmand. “As far as what I can do is, I can only invite the students to come and help me grow more and more of our vegetables and fruit and take them home and enjoy them. At least for the summer,” said Houshmand.

The university restated its plans to open Rowan Global, Inc, Rowan-Virtue Partnership, School of Veterinary Medicine, and Edelman Fossil Park Museum in the future.

For the Fiscal year 2023, Rowan’s areas of focus will be campus safety, well-being, and workforce recruitment and retention. 

“The campus has gotten too big. There are people who come in here to do nefarious activities because our young men and women are here,” said Houshmand.

Because of this, Houshmand stated that we all must be vigilant. 

Houshmand also gave reason to celebrate as it is Rowan’s second year receiving the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award from Insight into Diversity. In November, the Research Development Council of New Jersey will bestow Tony Lowman the Edison Patent Award. Kaitlin Mallouk received the KEEN National Rising Star Award, for instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in engineering students. 

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