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Ali Houshmand

Rowan University

Location: Glassboro, NJ
Founded: 1923
Industry: Education

Ali Houshmand is the president of Rowan University, a rapidly growing research institution dedicated to providing affordable and high- quality education. With a focus on innovation, partnerships and meeting the needs of students and the region, Houshmand has played a pivotal role in transforming Rowan University into a nationally recognized institution.

The university, founded in 1923, has evolved from a teacher preparation college to a public research institution ranked among the top 100 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Today, Rowan University offers a diverse range of degrees, from bachelor’s through doctoral degrees and professional certificates, to 22,000 students. With its main campus in Glassboro, New Jersey, and medical school campuses in Camden, Stratford and Sewell, Rowan provides accessible education through its partnerships with community colleges. The university focuses on the intersection of engineering, medicine, science and business, ensuring that students receive a well-rounded education and are prepared to make meaningful contributions in their chosen fields.

One of Houshmand’s notable accomplishments is the expansion of Rowan University’s health- related programs. Through collaborations with institutions like Virtua Health, Rowan has established the Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences, the Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine and the Rowan- Virtua School of Nursing & Health Professions. These programs address the region’s healthcare needs, offer new opportunities for students and contribute to the growth of the healthcare industry.

Houshmand has led efforts to reduce food insecurity both on campus and in the surrounding community, demonstrating how universities and corporations can work together to make a positive impact. Houshmand’s personal journey from poverty in Iran to his current position as president of Rowan University serves as an inspiration to others, emphasizing the power of education and hard work.

“The most important risk I took was when I moved from Drexel University — a nationally respected research university — to Rowan, a master’s-classified unknown university,” Houshmand said. “It was the most rewarding and impactful decision of my professional career. I needed a big challenge rather than a secure administrative or academic career. I came to Rowan and found my purpose, earned the trust of my community and together we transformed Rowan and South Jersey.”

Houshmand has earned a spot on the Titan 100 list multiple times.

“There are two very important qualities that leaders should have if they want to be successful,” he said. “One is to be self-aware. Recognize your weaknesses and strengths. And the other is to be open and transparent. I also hire qualified, capable people and give them responsibility. That’s really what good leadership is. Choose capable, passionate, hard-working people and trust them to present their best ideas. Allow them to lead, but then hold them responsible.”

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It's a distinct honor to be considered as a leader in our community and I hope to be an example that people can look up to. I hope they can stand on my shoulders to achieve even more.  

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