Rowan aims to have 38,500 students by 2033

Houshmand: School has space to do it — and means to do it — at little cost to state and students

Essentially doubling your economic impact in the region in five years — to nearly $3 billion — is terrific, Rowan University President Ali Houshmand said Monday.

But, it’s only a start.

Houshmand said he intends for the school to dramatically increase its enrollment (to 38,500) by 2033, dramatically increase its capital expansion ($1.5 billion in new projects in the next decade) and dramatically increase its economic impact (to $4.4 billion) in the process.

Houshmand, on a media call to discuss Rowan’s increase in economic impact, said the power of public-private partnerships that he has leveraged so well in his nearly dozen years as the president will enable Rowan to grow in a way that will benefit the community and its residents without costing them.

“We believe totally in partnership,” he said. “We believe that we need to bring businesses, investors and other people into the fold to be the new university of the future — (one) that is not burdening the taxpayers and their families and the parents to pay for these things.

“We need to make it less expensive. We make it far more efficient. We need to make it much more comfortable and beautiful. And we need to generate revenue for the investors.”

Holistic wellness village

A 220-acre holistic wellness village is among dozens of plans for Rowan University campus and its community, Rowan President Ali Houshmand said.

The village will be on the north side of campus, across from an Inspira Health Network hospital.

Houshmand said the village will have housing options for all ages — and of all types. It also will have numerous therapeutic activities: physical, spiritual, animal, music as well as nutrition and exercise programs.

Houshmand said it will be an ideal place for retirees who want to remain connected to a health care institution and a school of higher education.

Rowan, which currently has approximately $350 million in projects underway, has many more on the drawing board. Houshmand counted off nine potential brick-and-mortar projects moving forward.

He said the school’s location (it has plenty of land) is a key, but he said its ability to leverage technology counts for even more. The school’s greatest growth will come online, Houshmand said.

Projections call for increasing undergraduate enrollment to 26,000, graduate enrollment to 10,500 and professional enrollment to 2,000 — the great majority of growth coming from online programs at all levels, Rowan officials said.

Adding enrollment, Houshmand said, is of great economic benefit for the state — and will help New Jersey start to reverse its designation as one of the top states for sending its students out of state for college.

To Houshmand, it makes little business sense to pay so much to educate students K-12, then have them pay tuition to schools outside the state — and have many of them take jobs outside the state when they graduate.

Houshmand said his growth plans will come on campus and online. He said the school is working to identify a partner to expand its digital presence globally and with other global universities to create greater student exchanges.

Rowan’s ability to adapt is why it has been able to greatly expand at a time when so many other universities are contracting — or closing, he said.

Houshmand refuses to let that happen. He said his public-private partnership model (which created Rowan Boulevard as well as medical schools with both Cooper University Health Care and Virtua Health) are the key not only for the school, but the region.

On a day when Rowan detailed its current economic impact on the region, Houshmand said he wanted everyone to understand that universities should be viewed as economic engines as much as they are as educational institutions.

“In my opinion, is a very wise thing for any state to really look at the educational institutions as an economic engine,” he said. “We are here to stay. We have been in existence for 100 years and we will be in existence for another 200 years.”

He noted how Rowan prepares young people, often away from home for the first time, into productive citizens for the future.

“That’s a powerful thing that we do for society,” he said.

That society, Houshmand said, extends throughout the South Jersey region.

“At a time where everybody’s talking about institutions that are going under, I want you to know that Rowan University has every intention of not only lifting this university and getting it bigger, but also helping every one of our counties in our region,” he said. “These are counties that need our help, and we have every intention of partnering with them, employing their people, creating facilities, educating the future of the country in the area that our economy wants.”