Public 4-Year Schools

Rowan: New Holly Pointe Commons

A new, $145 million residence hall on Rowan University’s campus in Glassboro is now home to 1,415 underclassmen.

On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the University community gathered as the ribbon was cut on Holly Pointe Commons, the $145 million complex on the eastern tip of campus adjacent to Rowan Boulevard.

Rowan President Ali Houshmand, Vice President for Student Life/Dean of Students Richard Jones, and representatives from development partners University Student Living and Provident Resources Group joined together for the grand opening celebration on the patio overlooking the building’s spacious green area.

Most students living at the complex, including 649 freshmen and 755 sophomores and transfer students, moved in on August 27 and 28. Their new home is 303,000 square feet and includes Glassworks Eatery, a 550-seat dining hall that is open to the campus community, and BB’s C-Store, a grab-and-go café.

For more stories about Rowan, scroll down:

Rowan Engineering, CREATEs Solutions To Roadway Problems
Unearthing An Ancient Croc

Standing 75 feet high, the hall is set on eight acres at the former Mansion Park Apartments. It includes a four-story building and a seven-story building connected by a bridge.

Through the University’s first-ever public-private partnership to develop on-campus housing with a private developer, Rowan entered into an agreement to construct the building with University Student Living of Marlton, the comprehensive housing company of The Michael Organization, and Provident Group-Rowan properties LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Provident Resources Group, Inc.

“We’ve built something very, very special here through the power of public-private partnerships,” Houshmand says. “Our students get to live in the finest residence hall we can provide. However, a private developer invested its funds to construct and manage the building.”

Holly Pointe is one of USL’s most creative projects, says Joe Coyle, USL president, whose company has developed student housing nationwide, including communities at the University of Minnesota, the University of Arkansas, the University of South Alabama, MIT and Baylor University.

“Holly Pointe Commons was an ambitious project that was accomplished due to all the stakeholders’ willingness to adhere to strict deadlines and to accelerate the decision-making process,” says Coyle. “It is a textbook example of how the University, city government and private industry worked together to achieve something great for the students, campus and surrounding community.”

Response to the residence hall has been extraordinarily favorable University-wide, according to Jones.

“Our students love that Holly Pointe Commons is a gateway to campus,” says Jones. “The complex has a progressive, forward-thinking design that speaks to who we are as a University. Its unique design gives students the ability to be their authentic selves and to be part of learning communities that are so critical to their success.”

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Holly Pointe Commons was open for tours.

Holly Pointe Commons provides student housing as the University’s enrollment continues to surge. Now at nearly 17,000 students, enrollment is expected to reach 25,000 in seven years.

About Holly Pointe Commons

The building, which has a serpentine-shaped footprint, was designed by Erdy McHenry Architecture of Philadelphia. The complex was designed with the needs of freshmen and sophomores in mind. Rooms are organized in pods that include a mix of student bedrooms, lounge and study spaces, bathrooms and laundry rooms. The pods provide spaces to help students build a sense of community in the hall.

The building’s façade is constructed of metal panels with large windows throughout. Community lounge areas are floor-to-ceiling glass.

Designed with sustainability incorporated into every detail, Holly Pointe Commons is minimally targeting LEED Silver certification. The wooden benches that dot the areas in and around the complex were constructed from black walnut and white oak trees that were removed during construction.

Torcon, Inc. was the construction management firm.

Among the residents in Holly Pointe are students in the engineering, history, Honors, pre-med, LGBTQ+ and writing arts learning communities. The complex also has gender inclusive bathrooms and showers.

Holly Pointe Commons includes public art created by Nevada-based artist David Boyer. Titled “Dreams Take Flight,” the art “is meant to be a metaphor for the dreams, aspirations, idealism and drive that inspires young adults” to attend college and achieve their personal and professional goals, according to the artist.


The name of the complex pays homage to the site’s history at a historically busy intersection where Glassboro’s commercial and residential districts have converged for more than 200 years.

The name “Holly” refers to the American holly, which grew in and around the woods near campus. Rowan has a tradition of naming residence halls after trees, beginning in 1927 with Oak and Laurel, the first residence halls at the institution.

“Pointe” describes the location at the eastern tip of campus.

“Commons” refers to a public gathering place used jointly by residents of a community.

Even the building’s two eateries give a nod to Glassboro history.

The name Glassworks Eatery honors the borough’s past as one of the most prominent glass manufacturing communities in the nation in the 19th century. BB’s C-Store honors the legacy of Bathsheba Heston Whitney, matriarch of the Whitney family, which built a glassmaking empire in town.

Rowan Engineering CREATEs Solutions To Roadway Problems

The future of our nation’s highways—including heavily congested New Jersey roadways such as Routes 42 and 295, the Atlantic City Expressway, and I-95–soon may be in the hands of researchers at a unique facility slated to go up shortly at the South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University, in Mantua Township.

Under the auspices of the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering, the second building at the Tech Park will be the Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering systems (CREATEs), funded by nearly $5 million in grants and contracts from the State of New Jersey, the U.S. Department of Defense/Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

CREATEs will house a new Heavy Vehicle Simulator (HVS) – the only one at a college or university in the Northeast United States – which will be able to determine the long-term effects of wear and tear on roadways.

The HVS is capable of simulating two decades of highway traffic, airplane traffic and more in only a quarter to half a year, enabling researchers to assess the status of existing structures and evaluate the potential of new materials and how they will hold up to cars, trucks and airplanes.

Dr. Yusuf Mehta, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, will head the Center, where he plans to conduct work for the Garden State and other states, government agencies and businesses. The structure will open by fall 2016.

CREATEs will include a 50-foot by 90-foot structure that will house equipment, offices and space to run tests, as well as an outdoor testing environment that can be designated for specific types of materials and clients. Eventually, various states may “own” a section of CREATEs, which will be dedicated to just their needs.

“We can help states make something better,” Mehta said. “If something fails, we can determine if that happens in all situations, such as different weather conditions or at different temperatures. If something fails, we can help them find a solution.”

Within its first two years of operations, Mehta expects the center will employ between five and 10 professionals who will conduct testing for asphalt, concrete, soils, and other design and construction materials. The HVS, which has the capacity to mimic up to 20 years of traffic usage, will enable researchers to evaluate such topics as soil failure, moisture impact and road structures. Such testing will ensure quality of materials and introduce economic efficiencies.

While there is no absolute substitute to determine how a material will hold up as opposed to an actual 20-year field performance of a roadway, Mehta said CREATEs and the HVS “close that gap.”

“Who’s got 20 years?” he said. “This answers some part of the question about roadways. Lab results are good, but the HVS can demonstrate what actually will happen in the field. This tests reality. That is why it is so valuable.”

Dr. Anthony Lowman, dean of the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering, expects CREATEs to boost the economy as it further grows research initiatives at Rowan while meeting the needs of states, manufacturers and contractors.

“Not only will CREATEs help ensure the quality of what our roads are made of, it also will help our clients save money. Equally important, it will enable Rowan to drive innovation as our researchers explore and validate new products, and it will boost the South Jersey economy,” Lowman said. “Since CREATEs is unique to the Northeast, it will enable Rowan to attract manufacturers, which in turn will lead to more highly skilled jobs in our region.”

Unearthing An Ancient Croc

Team brings remains of 65-million-year-old marine animal to the surface at Rowan Fossil Park

It is one of the best specimens found at the Rowan University Fossil Park in some time.

And it took some hardware store plaster, some dollar store tin foil—and a whole lot of precision and muscle—to move it from its resting place of 65 million years to a laboratory in Rowan Hall.

“This is probably the third most complete crocodile we’ve found,” Paul Ullmann, postdoctoral researcher in the University’s School of Earth & Environment, says of the remains of an ancient crocodile unearthed at the fossil park this summer.

The specimen includes portions of the crocodile’s skull and lower jaw, plus 19 teeth.

“There’s nothing from below the head. But it’s a much bigger find than we usually make,” says Ullmann.

Transporting the specimen, found in the fossil park in Mantua Township, to a Rowan laboratory in Glassboro, where it will be painstakingly researched by University paleontologists, was a significant undertaking.

The Fossil Park, located on a 65-acre tract that was a former sea floor, contains thousands of fossils and provides researchers with the best window, east of the Mississippi, into the Cretaceous Period—the heyday of the dinosaurs.

Fossils found at the site, include, among others, marine snails, brachiopods, bryozoan colonies, shark teeth, boney fish, sea turtles, marine crocodiles and mosasaurs.

Because the floor of the fossil quarry itself sits below the water table, areas unearthed for study fill up with groundwater. In the case of the crocodile specimen, researchers pumped water out of the area every 15 minutes as they worked, according to Ullmann.

The specimen was relatively intact, which means each fossil bone was not taken from the site one by one. Instead, using dollar store tin foil and plaster from a nearby Lowe’s home improvement store, the team wrapped the skull in foil, burlap and plaster, using greensand as an additional cushion, so that it could be unearthed altogether.

“Everything came out in one giant block of plaster, sand and burlap,” says Ullmann. “We call that a jacket. It’s the largest jacket we’ve ever had to deal with here.”

Once the plaster was in place, it took a group of seven to slide the fossil on an old road sign and move it to a waiting Rowan Facilities vehicle for transportation to the Glassboro campus.

“It was a 500-pound block, over three feet long,” Ullmann says.

The process of stabilizing the fossil was akin to setting a broken bone in a cast, he notes, chuckling about the use of bargain basement materials to unearth such a significant find.

The specimen has been housed for a month in a lab in Rowan Hall. Now that the entombing sediment in the jacket is completely dry, researchers will begin examining the fossil closely. One of the things they’ll look to determine is its genus—whether it is a Thoracosaurus or a Hyposaurus, two similar looking, fish-eating crocodiles that were distantly related.

It’s unlikely, Ullmann says, that the team will find more pieces of the crocodile’s skeleton. After the specimen’s death, the skull likely sank to the bottom of the sea floor, where it has remained for 65 million years, Ullmann says.

“Right now, it’s hard to predict how much we can put back together. But it certainly will be one of our showpieces,” he says.

Southern New Jersey has been a hotbed of vertebrate paleontology since 1858, when the world’s first dinosaur skeleton was discovered in Haddonfield, says Kenneth Lacovara, lead paleontologist and director of the Rowan Fossil Park.

“Our site has produced amazing specimens since the 1920s. This new fossil is one of five extinct species of marine crocodiles that have been found in these deposits,” says Lacovara, who also is founding dean of Rowan’s new School of Earth & Environment.

In addition to using the site for research, Lacovara and his team host school groups and an annual community dig day at the site.

“When people make a personal connection with the place where they live and the earth’s ancient past, it’s a transformational experience for them,” Lacovara says. “We’re using the amazing history preserved here to teach kids about the scientific method and to help them see science as a possible pathway for their future selves.”

Rowan purchased the Fossil Park in January from the Inversand Company, which mined manganese greensand at the site for nearly a century. The University is working to develop the site into a world class center for science education and exploration.

Lacovara is world renowned for his discovery of Dreadnoughtus schrani, a massive, plant-eating dinosaur that is the best example found of any of the largest creatures ever to walk the planet.

Researchers at the park are looking to determine if the fossils found there represent a mass die off of the animals that once lived there during the Cretaceous Period. The team is analyzing the fossils, sediments and geochemistry of the site to gain a clearer picture of the period when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

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