Rowan to rename honors college after Martinson after $5M gift

Well-known venture capitalist likes what he sees at school: ‘Rowan is striving for excellence at scale’

John Martinson is a well-known and highly respected figure in the entrepreneurial and venture capital ecosystem.

Now the head of Martinson Ventures in Newtown, Pennsylvania, he was an original founder of Edison Partners in 1986. In his career, he has led 80 companies to phenomenal success in the financial technology, health care information technology and interactive marketing sectors and more.

Simply put, he knows talent — and recognizes innovation — when he sees it. And he always has liked what he has seen at Rowan University.

Martinson, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy who flew more than 500 combat missions, has supported Rowan programs focusing on engineering and education since 2006.

On Thursday, he expanded that assistance, pledging $5 million to the Rowan Honors College, which will be renamed the John H. Martinson Honors College

“I’m certainly impressed with the leadership, faculty and students of the Honors College,” he said. “I’m eager to accelerate that progress.”

Rowan officials said his donation will help the school do just that.

Honors Dean Lee Talley said the gift will greatly expand opportunities for Rowan Honors students — including more paid research opportunities, spring break service trips at no cost to students and funding for study abroad.

“These are things that our students often can’t even consider because of financial constraints,” Talley said. “This will allow us to open up these types of experiences to a whole new group of Rowan students.

“Mr. Martinson’s gift is going to broaden and deepen absolutely everything we do.”

Rowan President Ali Houshmand called the gift transformational.

Houshmand said he was very appreciative of the fact that Martinson felt moved to help the school, even though he is not a graduate.

“Like our benefactor, Henry Rowan, John H. Martinson is not an alumnus,” Houshmand said. “Yet, he has chosen to support our university and to impact the education of some of our most academically gifted students.

“In doing so, he is helping to give our Honors students the education and experiences they need to become impactful intellectual leaders, creative thinkers and doers, and public servants. We are grateful for his generous vote of confidence in our university and, most especially, our students.”

The Honors College, which has 555 students, is open to students of every major and academic discipline.

To join and remain in Honors, students must apply and maintain a 3.5 grade point average; successfully complete eight Honors classes; attend and participate in academic, social/wellness and service events; and adhere to specific ethical standards and academic codes of conduct.

Similar to honors colleges at other institutions, the college offers unique and interdisciplinary course offerings, enhanced discipline-specific class offerings, priority registration and Honors housing.

But the college stands out in that it fosters a diverse community of “citizen scholars” by developing a learning community dedicated to developing socially and civic-minded leaders engaged in extracurricular activities and service.

“I’m certainly encouraged by their achievements and potential,” Martinson said. “Honors students obviously are intelligent, accomplished and motivated to be successful in complex fields and majors. They have broad interests in other academics and disciplines.

“The Honors College has in place advanced courses, outstanding faculty and excellent facilities. Rowan encourages participation in civic projects. Students will benefit from enrichment programs and experiential learning from my endowment.”

As he has throughout his professional career, the gift is an act of helping organizations that he feels are on the right track to success.

“My business is to finance and guide innovative entrepreneurs,” he said “Henry Rowan is the epitome of a role model.

“Rowan stands out for the growth and expansion of the university and the vision of its leadership. Very few universities around the country are expanding at the pace of Rowan. The university creates an outstanding, competitive, nurturing environment. Rowan is striving for excellence at scale.”

Martinson earned his B.S. in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Academy, his M.S. in astronautics from Purdue University and an MBA from Southern Illinois University. In 2011, he was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Science from Rowan.