Houshmand develops $1.5B plan for campus projects

Pictured is Chamberlain Student Center construction sites progress as of February 2024, an active motion in the master plan. - Staff Writer / Marchella Mazzoni

Rowan University President Ali Houshmand has created a ten-year master plan that is estimated to cost $1.5 billion after completion. This plan works as a roadmap that lays out the priorities for the University to expand on campus grounds, new technology, and academic programs.

Universities all across the globe work on ten-year master plans to utilize as a general direction toward foreseeing where the future of individual campuses is headed. Under Houshmand, Rowan is working towards moving the plan forward by creating new homes for programs and technology-fueled student spaces. The $145 million Shreiber School Of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Hospital as well as the $30 million Chamberlain Student Center expansion, are currently active in this plan. 

“Really what you want to see for a master plan is always an eye toward community, you come to a college campus to learn, but also to grow, and the opportunities that you find here are key to that. The student center is so important that’s where you meet people and you join clubs, and that’s where you really grow,” said Rowan University Spokesperson Joe Cardona. “From a master planning point of view, someone like me will always want to make sure there is room for students to explore.” 

Currently in motion is the expansion of the Chamberlain Student Center. The expanded 28.5K square-foot grounds will have outdoor and indoor student collaborative spaces with an all-glass building to overlook the campus. Inside, the new center will offer workspaces focused on student interaction at the student commons, a coffeehouse, meeting rooms, a 150-person event area, a seminar room, an amphitheater, and Student Government Association offices. The center is set to be finished this summer to host students in the Fall 2024 semester. 

“I feel like it’s going to be a great addition, I’m still new here so I’m still figuring everything out, but I can’t wait to explore it,” said freshman art major Anthony Powers. 

Another active construction under site in this master plan is the Shreiber School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Hospital which is estimated to be completed within the next few years. After pledging $3 million to create the Shreiber Family Pet Therapy Program, Gerald B. Shreiber then helped fund Rowan’s veterinary school by donating $30 million to help construct the site. This donation will allow the university to welcome its expected class of 70 scholars in fall 2025 to obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and related degree programs. 

“I’m an admissions ambassador, so I give tours, and I’ve had a fair bit of students who come here really just wanting to learn more about the vet program,” said SGA Alternate Student Trustee Yuval Saar. “I just feel like I’ve seen it already bringing in a new population of students that otherwise wouldn’t be coming here.”

The university works together in open forums with deans, faculty, and students to gain perspectives from all communities for the master plan. The group looks at the campus region to see what is needed nationally and utilizes these resources to help guide the university toward accomplishing set goals. Rowan is working to receive funds by reaching out to acquire money from the state and donors. 

There are many future projects that currently have no donors. The university is seeking investors who are interested in funding projects– such as an expansion of the nursing program– to help move the idea forward. 

“There’s a ten-year plan but there’s not really funding for it, but if you lay that plan out and say we really want to do something because we have two medical schools, we have all these students that could intern out there, we have a partnership with Inspira,” said Cardona. “You develop a plan and someday someone will say, ‘I like that plan, I wanna invest,’ so part of the planning process is showing people what could be, and then people getting interested and saying I wanna be a part of that.”

The Student Government Association (SGA) is involved with the master plan and concerns including transportation, international dining, and commuter parking lots on campus can be resolved by it. SGA President Brianna Reagan aims to expand Rowan’s Shuttle Services by allowing commuter students living in Glassboro to be transported to campus. 

The master plan also hopes to expand on the external shuttles that supply services for students to be taken to shopping centers. They hope to supply busing that continuously runs all weekend and weekdays to allow students to shop and travel back to campus. 

“We wanted to expand the shuttle service and not only would that help our international students be able to receive the necessary tools that they’ll need to basically survive on their home away from home,” said Reagan. “It’ll help our commuters by allowing them to basically use the same shuttle service if extended and made external. Not only would that resolve commuters having more of the ability to utilize the school’s resources but we’ll also solve some of the parking problems that students have issues with.” 

An idea in the master plan is expanding on Rowan’s West Campus in Glassboro by utilizing part of the 600 acres of unused land the university owns. The university plans to create a two-story home for the Rowan-Virtua Rita & Larry Salva School of Nursing and Health Professions that is estimated to be constructed within two years. The university is working to partner with Inspira on a “holistic wellness village” which will be constructed on a 210-acre lot near Inspira Health’s Mullica Hill campus. This space will provide patients a place to stay long-term with therapy and medical procedures that overall focus on wellness. 

“I think it’s good, I feel like we don’t have too much for the nursing major. It’s not big enough here yet so for the sounds of it, it sounds really good,” said sophomore sports communication and media major Owen Hall. “For people that want to get into that field, it’s more opportunity for them and it’s going to attract more students to come to this university.”

The master plan includes AI-generated plans on what the future campus buildings will look like. The buildings will be themed futuristically and a dedicated research facility as well as a new computer center are planned projects to be added on campus. 

The university is also working on adding new technology to allow students to engage in real-world virtual reality experiences that are estimated to cost about $3.2 million. The VR learning pod on West Campus will allow biology classes to experience a VR Alien Zoo while accommodating six people at once. Some students, like Saar, have already had the opportunity to try it out.

“You could pet the animals and it was so cool because they have these retractable touch things that feel like an actual animal,” said Saar. “When you’re in VR it looks like the alien is letting you pet it and it gets shy and pulls its head back and walks away. It’s so cute, it’s the most adorable thing ever, I was impressed.” 

Rowan University’s “Campus of the Future” master plan will continuously be in motion throughout the next decade and new ideas will be voiced and plans will be created. Houshmand will sit down with developers to break down plans including the expansion of the nursing program. The university is actively looking for donors who are interested in the ideas within the master plan to advance students of the future. 

“Imagine in ten more years how even more bright and beautiful it’ll be after we graduate and we are in our careers and experiencing our adult life for all that it is,” said Reagan. “I think it is very important to continue on with this ten-year plan because it’s going to put Rowan University on bigger maps than it already is. We are practically already taking over South Jersey and that’s big.”  

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