Dr. Ali A. Houshmand

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.

Inaugurated Sept. 20, 2013, Houshmand is a dynamic leader whose personal connection with students, employees, alumni, government leaders, the business community and the public have become a hallmark of his presidency. A lifelong believer in the power of education, he holds masters and doctoral degrees in industrial and operations engineering and has applied an entrepreneurial approach to growing the University. Since becoming president he has sought to do this with four goals in mind: increasing access, improving quality, ensuring affordability and promoting economic development.

And 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 whose enrollment has grown from 11,000 students in 2012 to 19,000 students for Fall 2018, making Rowan the 7th fastest growing research university in the U.S.

Transformational changes

Early in his tenure, Houshmand drove the creation of Rowan’s 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 colleges in Gloucester and Burlington counties to develop programs in which students at those schools may earn a Rowan bachelor’s degree for $25,000. Under these unique partnerships, the schools remained independent but adopted the names Rowan College at Gloucester County and Rowan College at Burlington County to reflect their close relationship to the University.

In 2012, Houshmand oversaw the opening of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) in Camden as well as, 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 to develop a research hub in the life sciences in the City of Camden and, in 2017, committed $50 million to support research there.

To keep Rowan education affordable, Houshmand has committed to not raising undergraduate tuition beyond the rate of inflation.

Broad vision

Active in reshaping virtually all aspects of the University, Houshmand has helped guide the success of Rowan Boulevard, a $400+ million public-private 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, entertainment attractions and a new Marriott Hotel & 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, $1.2 billion in additional construction;
  • created $25,000 bachelor’s degree programs with its partner community colleges;
  • designated $50 million over 10 years to medical and bio-scientific research in the City of Camden;
  • earmarked $3 million to develop new curricula to better position graduates for 21st century careers;
  • climbed in key national rankings, including S. News & World Report standings, that placed the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering at #19 in the nation and the University among the top 90 public research institutions in America;
  • will add 100 new tenure-track faculty lines over the next ten years;
  • raised $100.9 million in new gifts and pledges.

Hot sauce for scholarships

In 2017,Houshmand combined his passion for cooking with his love of students to support emergency student scholarships. Long an aficionado of hot peppers, he created a line of condiments, Houshmand’s Hazardous Hot Sauce, which the University began mass producing. Through summer 2018, sales of the hot sauce have generated nearly $25,000 to support the Student Emergency Scholarship Fund.

From poverty to the presidency

Raised in a family of ten children Iran, Houshmand, as a child, embraced education as a way to a better life. He earned his bachelor’s and first master’s degrees in mathematics and 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 joined the University of Cincinnati and, later, Drexel University, where he taught and held various administrative positions before coming to Rowan as provost in 2006.

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