“This is a rare instance where you can use New Jersey as inspiration for any place that needs to figure out how to get things done the right way,” Christie said as the Republican governor stood next to Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester). “Just look to New Jersey for inspiration.”
Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony was the result of
bipartisan cooperation between Christie and Sweeney, the governor said. It came
as one of the results of the Higher Education Restructuring Act, which went
into effect on July 1 of this year.
Among other things, the act made Rowan University the third research university in the state, paving the way for this kind of expansion. It also gave the University possession of the University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey’s osteopathic medical school in Stratford.
Christie credited Sweeney with sticking to the program and seeing it through to the end after past administrations had failed in similar attempts for more than a decade.
“It’s embarrassing to watch what’s going on in the capital right now,” Sweeney said, referring to the government shutdown that began on Tuesday. “We understand that higher education is the key to a strong economy, and we worked together. We did something that will change New Jersey in a positive way.
“This is where government works and we should celebrate where we’re doing something positive.”
The goal of the project is to expand the College of Engineering building by adding a three-story, 90,500 square foot addition to the current building.
With the expansion, the University looks to increase its focus on research that will “help solve real-world problems and the commercialization of marketable products,” officials said.
While the project is the result of the Restructuring Act, funding
comes as the result of the passage of the Building Our Future Bond Act, passed
by voters during last year’s election.
Rowan received $117 million that will go toward the expansion of the College of Engineering and the Rohrer College of Business, including new classrooms and lab space. Each school is projected to be able to add 2,000 students apiece.
“Qualified applicants who weren’t accepted previously left the state,” Rowan University President Dr. Ali A. Houshmand said. “They would leave the state and take their money with them because they would get a job in another state. This act makes it possible for them to remain here, get educated here, become taxpayers in the state and make our state economically viable.”
University officials expect the projects to be completed by the 2016-17 academic year. They’re expected to create 550 construction jobs and more than 100 permanent jobs in Glassboro. They also expect to bring in over $180 million in economic activity to the town.
Henry Rowan, the University's namesake who, along with his late wife Beatty,
made the $100 million contribution to the school then known as Glassboro State College in 1992 that helped create the
College of Engineering, was in attendance.
He stood alongside Christie, Sweeney and Houshmand as they put the ceremonial first shovels in the ground.
“This is a great day for Rowan University,” Christie said. “This restructuring expands the capacity and reputation of Rowan University, and create a diversity they didn’t have before. People will have opportunities at Rowan that they’ve never had before.”
He called it the result of “reasonable compromises.”
“We took bold steps to do the right thing, and that’s in stark contrast to what’s happening in Washington right now, where people are not only not working together, they’re not talking to each other. That doesn’t happen here because we won’t let it. When me and Steve and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver are angry, we don’t stop talking to each other. Those are the relationships that allow things like what’s happening today.”