In the final major address before commencement week kicks off, Rowan University president Ali Houshmand briefed attending faculty at University Assembled, a general meeting in the Tohill Auditorium at Bunce Hall.
The major topic at the meeting was the reorganizing of the administration. As the university turns its focus from expansion to community building, several major administrators are either being reorganized or leaving for new positions elsewhere. The three are Donald Moore, the senior vice president for facilities and operations, Shreekanth Mandayam, the vice president for research and executive director of the South Jersey Tech Park and Ken Blank, senior vice president for health sciences.
Moore will be leaving Rowan to take a position as vice president for faculties and real estate at Drexel University in June. In his absence, Joe Campbell, the current interim special assistant to the president for real estate, will step up into the position and will report to Bob Zazzali. Zazzali will also assume the title of senior vice president of administration in this change.
Mandayam is taking the opportunity to return back to the Rowan College of Engineering to continue teaching and conducting research. He will be replaced by Jeanne Nevelos, who is currently the managing director of Rowan Innovations. She will take over the administration of the tech park, while Beena Sukumaran will be managing the research portion of the role. Sukumaran is currently the president’s fellow for diversity and inclusion.
Blank will be moving on to consult for several major universities, including Rowan. The position has now been restructured so that the deans of the medical schools will now report to the president directly through Jim Newell, the University provost.
Speaking after the meeting, Houshmand said that the reordering was key, as these three positions have some of the greatest impact on the campus as it currently stands. Houshmand mentioned that facilities, research and fundraising are key areas from his perspective. Houshmand also said that this decision did not happen overnight, and in his words, was based on a relatively immediate need to proceed forward.
“There are always reasons to do this kind of thing,” Houshmand said. “You don’t just wake up in the morning and say ‘let’s restructure.’ There are always reasons for it.”
During his presentation, Houshmand also mentioned looking into fixes for the current issue of traffic on route 322. Houshmand announced that he was setting up a group to look into the viability of potential bypasses and solutions for the amount of vehicular traffic that passes through campus, and said that it posed a potential risk to the student body.
“I think it’s the most important issue we have in this university because this campus is divided right now by this very big road and until we fix that road so we can have a truly cohesive and safe campus, our students are at risk and I don’t want that to happen,” he said.
Michele Pich, the assistant director at the faculty center for excellence in teaching and learning, and an adjunct professor of law and justice at the university was one of the faculty members in attendance today. She said that having this summit was a good way for the president and other administrators to keep faculty aware of what was going on.
“I appreciate that he’s keeping us informed of what the gameplan is,” Pich said. “I think it’s always nice that this is a university that has something like that, a centralized way to hear it straight from the source. So while there will certainly be some adjustments to be made, I look forward to seeing the continued growth and direction of the university.”
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