During last week's general election, New Jersey residents voted to approve the Building Our Future Bond Act by an overwhelming majority, with 62.8 percent of the voters saying yes. And although the Bond Act passed just one week ago, Rowan University and Gloucester County College already have plans on how they want to spend the money.
Both GCC and Rowan wanted the bond to pass to secure funds to expand their capacity. Both schools, as well as other schools in the state, claimed that they have had to turn away qualified students in recent years because of overcapacity.
Rowan President Ali Houshmand in particular highlighted capacity limitations during a visit by state Senate President Steve Sweeney in October.
“We've had to turn away very qualified students from our engineering department,” said Houshmand in October. “Not because they weren't good enough, but because we had no where to put them.”
Expansion of the school's engineering building and South Jersey Tech Park top Rowan's wishlist of projects completed with the bond money. The Bond Act stipulates that designated research institutions, like Rowan, will receive a total of $300 million.
Houshmand said his university's lofty expansion goals include an overall goal of expanding Rowan so that it can someday hold 20,000 students. He explained that bond money is necessary to do this, as tuition increases alone cannot provide adequate funding for these projects.
Gloucester County College, meanwhile, is set to receive a smaller piece of the pie as a community college. The Bond Act sets aside $150 million for the state's community colleges.
Nevertheless, GCC, like Rowan also has big expansion plans in store. The school's first project is slated to be a brand-new Medical Arts and Allied Health building. A building will allow the nursing and allied health programs in the school to admit more students and expand course offerings with state-of-the-art facilities.
GCC President Frederick Keating shared Houshmand and other college presidents' thoughts on the Bond Act prior to the election. In a statement, he said, “The Building Our Future Bond Act allows us to make the investments for essential academic developments so that colleges can continue to provide a top flight education and prepare New Jersey students for the future. It will also ease the pressure on rising tuition that often times are driven by lack of funding from the state of New Jersey.”
Both schools now wait for the bond money to roll in. The State of New Jersey has not yet made public how or when the funds will be distributed to the individual schools.