Ali A. Houshmand, Ph.D.


Dr. Ali A. Houshmand became Rowan University’s seventh president in 2012 after serving for approximately six years as provost/senior vice president, CEO and interim president. Houshmand is a dynamic leader whose personal connection with students, employees, alumni, government leaders, the business community and the public has become a hallmark of his presidency. A lifelong believer in the power of education, Houshmand holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, a master’s degree in mathematical statistics, and master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial and operations engineering. His entrepreneurial approach to higher education focuses on four goals: increasing access, improving quality, ensuring affordability and promoting economic development. His success is evident. Under Houshmand, Rowan has evolved from a well-regarded state school to a rising Carnegie-classified national research university with two medical schools and, soon, New Jersey’s first veterinary school. Enrollment has grown from 11,000 students in 2012 to 23,000 students in fall 2021, making Rowan the fourth fastest-growing research university in the United States three years in a row.

Transformational changes

With his entrepreneurial perspective, Houshmand has been instrumental in fostering public-private partnerships and creating new opportunities to collaborate with business and industry on research, relevant education that leads to productive, responsive careers, and economic development. He is deliberate about strategic growth, public stewardship and steering the University toward becoming financially self-reliant. Rowan’s workforce has grown by 125 percent in 10 years, a key indicator of the institution’s vitality and a major contributor to Rowan’s $1.53B statewide economic impact. Early in his tenure, Houshmand drove the creation of Rowan’s self-funded Division of Global Learning & Partnerships, which offers students a variety of ever-growing graduate and degree-completion options that include online and hybrid programs. He partnered with community college leaders in Gloucester, Cumberland and Burlington counties to develop programs in which students at those schools may earn a Rowan bachelor’s degree for about $30,000. In the unique partnerships, the schools remain independent but adopted the names Rowan College of South Jersey-Gloucester County, Rowan College of South Jersey-Cumberland Campus and Rowan College at Burlington County to reflect their close relationship to the University. The partner schools now have 28 3+1 degree programs in place and more are planned.

In 2012, Houshmand oversaw the opening of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) in Camden and, in 2013, the integration of the School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) in Stratford from the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). With both schools part of Rowan, the University became just the second in the nation to offer both M.D.- and D.O.-granting medical programs. Under Houshmand, Rowan is also partnering with Rutgers–Camden, Coriell Institute, Cooper University Health Care and the Rowan University/Rutgers–Camden Joint Governing Board, as well as other health sciences organizations, to develop a research hub in the life sciences in the City of Camden. At the center of the hub is the $70 million Joint Health Sciences Center in Camden, which houses classrooms, medical simulations, laboratories and research facilities for Rowan and its institutional partners.

Broad vision

Active in reshaping virtually all aspects of the University, Houshmand has helped guide the success of Rowan Boulevard, a $42 million collaboration between Rowan, private developers and the Borough of Glassboro that, since 2008, has created a new downtown with housing, retail, restaurant and academic space. In less than 10 years, Rowan Boulevard has become a regional destination with restaurants, a Barnes & Noble University Bookstore, professional offices and health care facilities, entertainment attractions and a Marriott Courtyard hotel and conference center, the first new Glassboro hotel in generations.

During Houshmand’s presidency, Rowan:
  • earned Carnegie doctoral research university designation;
  • completed $1.5 billion in University-related construction projects and has planned, over the next five years, $1 billion in additional construction;
  • created a Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion to increase traditionally opposed metrics—access and quality—and continue to expand the diversity of Rowan’s enrollment;
  • created more than two dozen $30,000 bachelor’s degree programs with partner community colleges;
  • partnered with Virtua Health, the region's largest health care system, to transform and advance medical education and health care;
  • climbed in key national rankings, including with U.S. News & World Report, which placed the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering at #17 in the nation and the University among the top 100 public research institutions in America;
  • raised $155 million in new gifts and pledges.

Applied research a priority throughout curriculum

Undergraduate education is at the core of Rowan University’s mission. As research at Rowan grows, the University is keenly committed to applied research that solves real-world problems at the intersection of engineering, business, science, technology and medicine. The University regularly partners with business and industry to address regional, national and global concerns.

From poverty to presidency

One of 10 children raised by hardworking but illiterate parents in Iran, Houshmand embraced education as a way to a better life. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and his first master’s degree in mathematical statistics from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. He earned a second master’s and a doctoral degree in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

After earning his doctorate, Houshmand worked as a staff analyst for United Airlines, developing large-scale optimization and forecasting models. Leaving industry for academia, he served at the University of Cincinnati and, later, Drexel University, where he taught and held various administrative positions before joining Rowan as provost in 2006.

Houshmand lives in Harrison Township, N.J., with his wife, Farah. They have two adult children.