Rowan University’s William G. Rohrer College of Business (RCB) follows an industry for the common good model, just like its namesake.
Founded in 1972 and celebrating its 50th anniversaryth Anniversary throughout the 2022-23 school year, the Department of Administrative Studies was renamed the School of Business in 1986 and in 2005 after Rohrer, a community banker and philanthropist dedicated to supporting South Jersey businesses.
Like many of the companies that Rohrer helped fund, the college that bears his name has grown tremendously while maintaining a focus on service, community, and entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurial spirit and entrepreneurial thinking are key to our mission,” said Dr. Sue Lehrman, Dean of RCB since 2015, who noted that the university’s entrepreneurial, purposeful attitude attracts thousands of students each year.
The Princeton Review and entrepreneur In 2021, the magazine named the college’s undergraduate entrepreneurship program one of the top 50 in the US, a recognition of an ideal promoted by university president Ali A. Houshmand and promoted throughout Rowan’s schools and colleges.
Lehrman believes the recognition validates that entrepreneurship, as taught at RCB and encouraged across campus, means following a passion to do great things.
“It’s about thinking and acting boldly and innovatively,” she said. “According to a method determined by Mr. Rohrer and carried out by Dr. In Houshmand’s highly encouraged model, we support students and community members to pursue big ideas, and often that means starting a business.”
RCB at a glance
Four centers of excellence and a wide range of academic degrees, from certificate and baccalaureate programs to an innovative and customizable MBA, help define the College at 50.
The college is characterized by:
- centers of excellence in experiential learning, innovation and entrepreneurship, professional development and responsible leadership;
- 12 advisory boards of regional leaders who help shape curriculum and provide mentoring, internships and often job opportunities for graduates;
- Around 2,000 undergraduates and nearly 300 graduate students;
- More than 60 full-time faculty members and a dedicated corps of adjunct trainers;
- AACSB and ABET accreditation, one of only a few American business schools to hold both.
business for the common good
While business schools, by definition, train students to make a profit, Lehrman states that the RCB also places a strong emphasis on how business can benefit humanity. For example, at this summer’s Think Like an Entrepreneur Academy, high school students applied an entrepreneurial perspective to address the United Nations’ global sustainability goals like eradicating poverty and ensuring safe drinking water.
“We are talking about people, planet, profit‘ said Lehrman. “In the past, business schools have only focused on profit, but we look at the triple bottom line, which we call ‘the three Ps.'”
The purposeful theme carries from the deanery to the four college centers to their classrooms and affiliations.
From an MBA focus on sustainable business practices, to Accelerate South Jersey, a program starting this year to support inner-city entrepreneurs, to a long-standing initiative where business students help community residents prepare their taxes for free , Lehrman said, societal impact is always part of the classroom.
“We educate business people who are committed to a higher purpose,” she said.
Stephen Kozachyn, RCB executive director for external affairs, who directs the center for experiential learning, said a project last spring with St. John of God Community Services in Westville exemplified the college’s commitment to doing business for the greater good.
In this project, 68 RCB students developed a marketing plan, studied supply chain and logistics, and provided recruitment consultancy for Holy Grounds, a coffee line that hopefully will soon be able to sell in retail outlets to St. John of God customers with special needs.
“The Holy Grounds coffee project is a perfect example of a business for the common good,” said Kozachyn. “St. John of God customers roast, package and distribute coffee at flea markets, online and at some events. It’s not in supermarkets yet, but we hope we can help get it there soon.”
A legacy of responsible leaders
Rowan University’s 2022 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, RCB graduate Joseph Cosgrove ’00, said the lessons learned from his undergraduate studies helped set the tone for the way he ran businesses and advanced his career.
As CEO of Pentec Health, a Glen Mills, Pa. company, Cosgrove leads an organization that has grown into a leader in providing patient-specific medications in dialysis centers and home settings.
In addition to being named Rowan’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, Cosgrove was named Marcum Innovator of the Year in 2016, was inducted into the Philly 100 CEO Hall of Fame Society, and received the National Kidney Foundation’s Leadership in Business Award and the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Award year.
None of this, he said, would have been possible if he hadn’t learned to put customers – in his case, patients – first.
“There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that the products we make and the services we provide contribute to better quality of care,” he said.
One of the college’s longest-serving faculty members, Professor of Management and former Dean Dr. Robert Fleming said that the concept of community service, sometimes referred to in the business community as servant leadership, has been a core teaching principle within the RCB for decades.
Fleming, who is also a nationally known expert in fire safety and emergency management, said his own experience, including serving with a volunteer fire department since 1972, always informs his lessons.
“We have people teaching our classes who don’t just read a script about servant leadership,” Fleming said. “You lived it. And when you have people who have actually done it and share that experience with students, it not only improves the reputation of the College of Business, but of Rowan University as well.”
Part of Mr. Rohrer’s legacy
The William G. Rohrer Charitable Foundation has given nearly $20 million to the university since 1995, including more than $17 million for the College of Business.
Of that, the foundation donated $10 million to support RCB students in 2005, at the time the largest donation to the university since Henry Rowan’s $100 million. In 1999, the Foundation awarded Rowan $1 million to fund business scholarships and in 1995 an additional $1 million to establish the William G. Rohrer Professorship within the RCB. (In 2000, the Campbell family of Salem also donated $1 million to fund the John B. Campbell Professorship at the College of Business, named for the late President and CEO of Mannington Mills.) The foundation in 2017 has 5 Pledged $1 million to establish the William G. Rohrer College of Business Honors Scholarship Program.
Mr. Rohrer, the first mayor of Haddon Township (a position he held for a cumulative 36 years), posthumously bequeathed millions of dollars to South Jersey organizations, including funding the William G. Rohrer Memorial Library in Haddon Township, the Bancroft School in Haddonfield, the Camden County Leukemia Society, the American Diabetes Association and the Arthritis Foundation.
Build on success
RCB literally built on its decade-long track record with the opening in 2017 of Business Hall, a gleaming glass-and-brick building on the north side of Rowan’s Glassboro campus that would give the college the opportunity to double in size.
The college fosters relationships within the Business Hall and across the region, and offers a wide range of professional affiliations including, last year, a program with Saxbys Coffee to open a student-run coffeehouse in the Business Hall; a meeting with Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens; and the partnership with St. John of God Community Services.
As part of the 50th For the anniversary celebration, RCB will provide 50 first-year students with a business wardrobe to attend special events, job fairs and interviews, and will host a series of special events to build on its success over the first half century. They include:
To support the RCB 50ththe college also conducts a fundraiser where donors can give $50 or another gift to help the college remain strong and vibrant for the next 50 years.
“We wanted the 50thth An anniversary meaningful to our students, faculty, alumni, donors and community,” said Dean Lehrman. “As part of this, we hold events that are consistent with our mission.”