Rowan University

by Melissa Samuelson | Mar 17, 2008
Rowan University Rowan University has long been known as a staple of the Glassboro community. From a small town teaching school to a national phenomenon in education, the school has achieved even the most unattainable goals and they are still growing.

In the early 1900s, several local towns were competing for the institution to be built there to bring prestige to their community. To stampede the competition, 107 Glassboro residents raised money to purchase 25 acres and offered it free to the state if they agreed to build the school in their town. The school opened in 1923 as one building known as ‘Glassboro Normal School.’ With 236 women attendants, the teacher training school under the direction of president Dr. Jerohn Savitz constantly upgraded its curriculum to keep with the teacher training standards.

In 1937, the school was made into a four-year institution and named ‘New Jersey State Teachers College at Glassboro.’ The school became known as a leader in special education when it opened a clinic for children with reading disabilities in 1935 and added physical therapy for the handicapped in 1944.

The next president, Dr. Edgar Bunce, sought to increase enrollment through the World War II era. To help the school through the depression, in 1946 Bunce created a junior college program to serve World War II veterans taking advantage of the GI Bill. The college was also re-named ‘Glassboro State Teachers College.’

In the 1950s, the next president, Dr. Thomas Robinson, expanded the curriculum beyond teaching. The school purchased more land and again changed its name, this time to Glassboro State College, better reflecting its new mission.

The campus received worldwide respect and attention in June of 1967 when it hosted the historic summit conference in Hollybush Mansion between President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin. The meetings halted the cold war and helped increase world peace. Dr. Mark Chamberlain, Glassboro’s fourth president, helped the school through the 1970’s to broaden the curriculum and solicit new attendants. He oversaw the creation of Business Administration Division and the addition of the Camden Campus.

Fifth president Dr. Herman James took over leadership in the mid 1980s. During this time, Henry and Betty Rowan pledged a $100 million gift to the institution, the largest at the time ever given to a public college. In honor of the gift, the school changed its name to Rowan College of New Jersey.

The gift helped create the College of Communication and Engineering, the first doctoral program within the state's college/university system. He also helped the institution achieve university status in 1997.

Rowan University now encompasses six academic colleges, more than 31 undergraduate majors, seven teacher certification programs, 25 master's degree programs and a doctoral program in educational leadership. The school is now considered an extraordinary educational institution and an integral part to South Jersey history.

Information collected from Rowan's website.

For more South Jersey History, visit our History page.

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Author: Melissa Samuelson


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