Dr. Ali Houshmand discusses future projects at University Assembled

Dr. Ali Houshmand discusses technology, innovation and new projects for the university at this year's University Assembled. - Staff Writer / Anthony DeRosa

On Wednesday, Oct. 25th, Rowan University President Dr. Ali A. Houshmand hosted University Assembled at Pfleeger Concert Hall. A plethora of Rowan faculty and donors, in addition to some students, were in attendance to hear the state of the campus and to also learn about new developments and projects taking place. 

President Houshmand firmly assured the audience that Rowan University is doing well academically, athletically, and financially, but held immediate concern over a recent drop in college numbers due to stresses of the past few years. Dr. Houshmand was also not afraid to point out that the cost of student debt was weighing heavily on many community members. 

Dr. Houshmand talked about his desire to look forward and to make Rowan University a university of the future. Although he articulated that we do not yet know what the university of the future is, Dr. Houshmand made it clear that Rowan University will do everything in its power to become a “school of the 21st Century” by using tech to advance all aspects of the college experience for students and faculty. 

Dr. Houshmand explained that there were three pillars to create what he believes the university of the future is, “Technology, Infrastructure and Modes of Delivery.”

 He described that “classroom walls are shifting”, with the use of new technologies that are changing the way that students are learning and the way that teachers are teaching. There is a newfound significance in dynamic learning, which refers to an educational approach that adapts and evolves in response to individual student progress, integrating real-time feedback and personalized teaching methods to enhance the overall learning experience. 

It was announced at the assembly that Rowan University will be experimenting with a new $500,000 immersive learning experience, including virtual reality (VR) classrooms and an “immersive free roam tech farm,” which will be available to all Rowan students. The two state-of-the-art VR classrooms will be built on the 4th floor of the Campbell Library and will be ready by September 2024. 

“There is a big gap right now between the younger generation and the older generation, the younger generation is highly technologically advanced, they have fast fingers, they have a different way of life. I think that has created a challenge because the educators are not in line with the educated,” said Dr. Houshmand. “The professor must learn to tell and teach the students what to do with all of the knowledge that everyone has access to.”

Other news shared at the meeting included the creation of the first veterinary school in the State of New Jersey, which will be named the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine of Rowan University and is set to open in 2025. Dr. Houshmand also talked about the $12 million dollar donation Rita and Larry Salva recently made to the School of Nursing and Health Professions

The West Campus section of Glassboro was also granted $185 million by the State of New Jersey for further expansion and development.

Dr. Houshmand also made it known that there has been excellent progress in the additions of the Chamberlain Student Center. Talks about expansion started in 2018, but Dr. Houshmand assured the Rowan faithful that the community will soon start to see the new hub for student life here on Rowan’s campus finally come to life. It was also shared that the Edelman Fossil Park Museum will be open in early spring, and will also be open to all Rowan students. 

Lori McFadden works in the President’s Office as a managing administrative assistant and has thoughts about the direction of the campus.

 “I think Rowan is growing rapidly, and is keeping up with the times. I have a Freshman attending Rowan University this year so I know he is excited to see all the new buildings going up and the new direction the university is taking,” said McFadden. “I grew up in Glassboro, so I can say that it has changed drastically as far as the community. But my mom is still here, she has college students who live close to her, they have been a great support, friendly, helpful. So, in that respect it’s been great for everyone.” 

The assembly ended with a stellar performance by the Pride of the Profs, which was a testament to the talent and dedication within the Rowan community, leaving the crowd eagerly anticipating the exciting events that lie ahead on Rowan University’s journey on becoming a school of the future.

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