Houshmand, one of N.J.’s top university presidents, to stay at Rowan through at least 2029

Ali Houshmand, who has helped elevate Rowan University to a top-level institution in New Jersey and in the region during his 10 years at the helm, apparently is not done yet. On Thursday, the school announced that Houshmand’s contract as president has been extended an additional three years — to 2029.

The announcement comes as a small surprise — the average tenure of a university president seemingly gets smaller each year — but a big relief to Rowan officials, who credit Houshmand for making the school a major player in higher education.

Houshmand served as the school’s provost for six years before taking the top spot in 2012. Under his direction, Rowan has:

  • Become home to two medical schools, making Rowan one of only four institutions in the nation to grant M.D. and D.O. degrees;
  • Been named the nation’s third fastest-growing university by the Chronicle of Higher Education;
  • Doubled enrollment and academic programs, growing from a well-regarded state university into an institution ranked among the Top 100 public universities in the nation;
  • Earned classification as a Carnegie R2 doctoral university with high research activity;
  • Attracted $155 million in private support;
  • Begun developing New Jersey’s first veterinary school; and
  • Achieved high national ranking for dozens of programs, including business, engineering, medicine and communication.

Chad Bruner, the chair of the school’s board of trustees, summed up Houshmand’s accomplishments this way, in a letter to the Rowan community.

“His mandate was to chart a new course for the university, one that better addressed the needs of our region,” he wrote. “By all measures, the university has surpassed what any of us thought possible. With his leadership, Rowan’s transformation has been like none other in our nation.

“Dr. Houshmand has kept the institution agile, always moving forward to bigger and bolder goals. As the higher education sector faces declining enrollment trends and as resources become more scarce, there is no better time to have a proven leader like Ali, one who is committed to Rowan University’s success, both now and far into the future.”

Houshmand, an annual selection to numerous ROI-NJ Influencer lists, was ranked No. 1 in Higher Education in 2022.

About Rowan University

A Top 100 national public research institution, Rowan University offers bachelor’s through doctoral and professional programs in person and online to 22,000 students. With eight colleges and nine schools, Rowan focuses on practical research at the intersection of engineering, medicine, science and business while ensuring excellence in undergraduate education. It has earned national recognition for innovation; high-quality, affordable education; and public-private partnerships.

He also has been noted as a thought leader who is not afraid to think outside the box. In an interview last summer, marking 10 years as president, Houshmand addressed the issue head-on:

“People have referred to me as the rebel, a crazy person who comes up with these wacky ideas, but I really think that, in order for humans to progress, you have to imagine beyond the imaginable,” he said. “You have to go to a place where your spirit and your soul have the confidence to reach the ultimate goal.

“I know, in most cases, it’s beyond our reach. But there’s nothing wrong for us to dream that big.”

Houshmand always has had big dreams for Rowan. And he is the first to acknowledge that the school has been able to reach them due to all-around support.

“It takes a whole community to create this type of cultural transformation,” he said last summer. “Our faculty and staff were willing to take risks, and there were some very brave people in the leadership of the borough of Glassboro who really wanted to get involved. And I was willing to be open and transparent and inclusive.

“I think the combination of all of that has been the key.”