The progress of an educational institution depends on the strong foundation created by great leaders. A successful college or university needs a visionary leader and judicious planning. Such leaders, with their unique perspective, confirm a path of success. They help the students as well as the staff to achieve their goals.
Embracing the thought of high-quality education and the betterment of students, Dr. Ali A. Houshmand (President of Rowan University), has worked earnestly with a dauntless approach and helped the university grow leaps and bounds. Dr. Houshmand is known for his dynamic leadership and creative approach to educational development.
A Strong Philosophy
“I believe that it is incumbent on us to provide our students a high-quality education at an affordable price,”says Dr. Houshmand. There are numerous ways to be a degree holder and every student has a different journey of attaining it. At Rowan University, Dr. Houshmand and his team have created curriculums that help students to be ready for future workforce journeys and uplift the home communities by contributing to their efforts. Easier said than done, they have taken on the task of retooling the institution.
At Rowan University, a team of leaders is redefining the structure of education and degrees offered. Dr. Houshmand believes that eradicating old, rigid academic programs and discovering new ways to deliver courses and degrees provide better options for students and society. The university is introducing the concept of a stackable credential system that will help students at an individual level.
Dr. Houshmand believes that the fear of a failed career among educational leaders has become an obstacle in the path of improvement. He adds that it takes courage to make intelligent and bold decisions and for good results, leaders must be accompanied by ardent and fearless personalities. As one who faced hardship and privation in his early years, he understands what it takes to overcome struggle and knows the value of running risks. His story of surviving against odds and thriving as a successful education leader is one he shares with students and others in hope of encouraging them to persist and flourish too.
An Illustrious Career
Born in the city of Tehran, Iran, Dr. Houshmand witnessed the struggle of his parents as the couple had to move with their 12 children at a very young age. Being curious, gifted in mathematics and knowing education would give him opportunities to overcome his circumstances, he drove himself as a student. After high school, Dr. Houshmand applied for the entrance exam of the university admissions. With the financial support of his brothers, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and further earned a master’s degree in Mathematical Statistics in England. To pursue further education, he moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where he acquired his second master’s degree and a doctorate in industrial and operational engineering from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Houshmand served the University of Cincinnati as a professor. Though the teaching was quite a fulfilling experience, he came to know that as a president, he could help and impact many people. The administration field attracted him. When given the opportunity, he joined the administration panel of the University of Cincinnati, and, later Drexel University. “As for my success, I believe it’s because I am a results-oriented person. I don’t like to do things just for the sake of it. There should be a reason for everything,” adds Dr. Houshmand. In 2006, he joined Rowan as provost and has been an integral part of the institution ever since.
Reputation of Excellence
Previously known as Glassboro Normal School, Rowan University was established in 1923 with the whole purpose of training teachers for two years. It evolved into a State College in 1950. Today, Rowan University is a multi-campus university that includes eight schools, eight colleges, two medical colleges and a veterinary school under development. It offers 90 Bachelor’s degrees, 48 Master’s degrees, two professional degrees, and 9 doctorates. Moreover, it has been recognized as an R2 Public Research University by the Carnegie classification.
The university’s achievements continue to attract attention and regard by many who evaluate U.S. higher education institutions. The university has been ranked among the nation’s top 100 public schools by the U.S News & World Report. Its Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering has been among the top 20 undergraduate engineering colleges in the U.S. The Chronicle of Higher Education named Rowan the fourth fastest-growing public research university in the nation last year, the third consecutive year it appeared on the list.
Being a dynamic and motivated leader, Dr. Houshmand primarily focuses on creating a culture that supports and values decision-making and the ability to make changes in the system. He emphasizes the benefits of upgrading the skills and knowledge for the best decision-making. He persistently engages himself in creative thinking, risk calculation, and agile work culture. Dr. Houshmand takes pride in following a cluster leadership approach that provides comprehensive supervision for decision-making discussions among the senior leaders. In the cluster leadership system, various topics such as academics, facilities, finance, etc. are discussed while collaborating with the senior leaders. This brings the best decisions that are implemented by Dr. Houshmand and the team.
Keeping up with the Trends
“Providing workforce-ready training is as important as building a foundation with a strong education,” says Dr. Houshmand. Monitoring the latest trends and requirements in the industry has become a vital task to remain focused and keep on course with the changing world. At Rowan University, Dr. Houshmand is trying to establish connections with businesses and industries. He mentions that the recently made partnership with Virtua Health will help expand the nursing school, health professions, and biomedical research programs. Career improvement of students needs advancements in the education system. Rowan University is consistently endeavoring to originate a stackable credential system that helps students grow skills and knowledge.
Reassuring the Future
Providing a welcoming environment for students must be the first duty of every institution and Rowan University advanced this mission in 2019 by establishing the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It has become a pioneer in honoring diversity and committing to support a welcoming, supportive and inclusive community for all.
Dr. Houshmand feels confident about the future of Rowan University. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, students in all areas showed courage and resilience. University-wide, this resourceful approach and progressive thinking have helped Rowan rank at 88 among public research universities and earn recognition as it rapidly progresses towards Carnegie R1 status. Driven to make a difference, Houshmand continues to lead with vision to transform and improve.
Note to the Students:
Read full Magazine here: The 10 Remarkable Education Leaders To Watch In 2022