The Henry M. Rowan Family Foundation will donate $15 million to the engineering school at Rowan University, the second-largest gift in the Glassboro school's history, the school announced Wednesday.
The money will create a permanent endowment for the engineering school, which will be renamed the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering.
"It goes to our foundation and gets invested, and we are going to receive proceeds from this annually forever," said Ali A. Houshmand, the university's president. "This is a gift that will keep on giving."
Henry Rowan, 91 and living in Bucks County, has made a few appearances - a presidential inauguration, a groundbreaking - but has largely been out of view in recent years. His daughter, Virginia Rowan Smith, is a university trustee and usually speaks for the family.
"His name, Henry M. Rowan, will be forever associated with excellence in engineering education, which just describes him perfectly," Smith, vice president of the foundation, said. "I think it's terrific."
The foundation will donate the money in annual $1 million increments. There are no conditions on the donation, Smith said, but it is intended to support the growth of the school her father helped create with a $100 million donation in 1992.
"This endowment will ensure . . . that we keep moving forward with top-notch research, international influence," she said, citing building construction, research programs, and a global fellowship program her family helped finance.
The 1992 gift turned Glassboro State College into one of New Jersey's largest academic institutions, setting up the aggressive expansion plans the school has today.
Glassboro State immediately changed its name to Rowan College. Rowan and his wife, Betty, had no previous connection to the college.
In the two decades since the Rowans pledged their money, the university has increased enrollment to 14,778 from 9,855; quadrupled the size of its Glassboro campus; opened a medical school in Camden; and created the South Jersey Technology Park for developing new businesses.
The university's endowment has grown to more than $180 million; it was just $787,000 in 1992, worth about $1.33 million today.
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained engineer who made his fortune as the founder of Inductotherm Corp., Henry Rowan had one major request to go with his money: that Glassboro State would establish an engineering school.
In 1995, Rowan College created the College of Engineering, giving free tuition to the 85 students in its inaugural class, which graduated in 2000.
University administrators now consider the engineering school to be one of the school's biggest draws. There are now about 1,150 undergraduate engineering students, with a record 375 freshmen this year. The school is creating a doctorate program, the university's first, with initial funding late last year from the Henry M. Rowan Family Foundation. Engineering students take classes in the $28 million Henry M. Rowan Hall.
This week's gift of $15 million will be the second largest in the university's history, after the Rowans' $100 million donation. Together with smaller donations over time, the family has committed more than $120 million to the university.
Colleges and universities often name (or rename) buildings, professorships, classrooms, or schools after benefactors, in recognition of major donations. The Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering will be the university's second named college. In 2005, the William G. Rohrer College of Business was named following a $10 million pledge from the William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation.
While the business and engineering schools have received high-profile donations, "every college is equal and important to me," Houshmand said. "I just want to create excellence."
To ensure that excellence, he said, endowment money goes only toward education and research; other costs will not be paid by the donations.
"I can assure you, the proceeds will not be used, for example, to buy furniture for the dean's office. That's not going to happen," Houshmand said. "Or it's not going to be used for somebody to go and travel."