The man who provided Williamson College of the Trades with the largest transformational endowment gift in its history, Henry M. Rowan, died Dec. 9. He was 92.
Mr. Rowan and his wife Lee gave $20 million to Williamson in 2008, after beginning their support in 2007 with a $5 million challenge grant.
The support to Williamson of Mr. and Mrs. Rowan and the Henry M. Rowan Family Foundation inspired H. FitzGerald and Marguerite Lenfest to also make a $20 million gift to the school in 2008. The combined gifts nearly doubled Williamson’s endowment. The Rowan family support to Williamson has been ongoing.
Mr. Rowan once said he supports Williamson because he believes in the school’s unique mission and believes it is helping America. He also liked the school’s commitment to frugality, a trait he holds in high esteem. He said, “Lee and I have been privileged to become acquainted with Williamson over the past several years. We believe very strongly in Williamson’s mission to provide excellent academics while preparing deserving young men with the rigorous training and strong values needed to build men of good moral character.”
President Michael Rounds said, “Hank Rowan was a true American hero. He became incredibly successful, but never forgot his humble roots and used his great wealth to make a positive impact in the world through his philanthropy. His generosity to Williamson has been unparalleled and we can never thank him enough for all that he has done to advance our mission. We will miss him greatly and offer our condolences to his wife, Lee, and his family.”
In 2008, then president Paul Reid said, “Mr. Rowan’s willingness to make this significant gift to Williamson brings with it the credibility and standing of a truly great man, a great philanthropist, a great businessman, and a great member of the community. These elements of his life, will now be synonymous with our great school. It is an honor and pleasure to have Mr. Rowan as a friend and supporter of the Williamson School.”
Henry Rowan’s Background
Henry Rowan was a born entrepreneur, risk taker, and tireless worker. He started his first business at the age of nine, raising chickens and selling the eggs to his mother. He credits his mother, who raised four children on her own with limited means, with teaching him the importance of thrift, a trait he has practiced all his life.
He studied science two years at Williams College, served 27 months in the Army Air Corps, beginning in 1943, and then earned a degree in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the G.I. Bill.
With the profit made from selling his family home in 1953, he started Inductotherm in Rancocas, N.J., manufacturers of melting, thermal processing, and production systems for the metals and materials industry. That company is now part of the Inductotherm Group, comprising 40 companies in 17 countries. Its systems account for a large portion of the induction melting and heating installations in use in the world today.
Inductotherm’s reputation was built on “quality, efficient products and unmatched service.” Rowan believed strongly in spending money carefully and “making do with what you have,” feelings he developed growing up in the Great Depression.
In 1992, he gave $100 million to Glassboro State College in New Jersey, at the time, the largest gift to a public college in the history of higher education. The school is now called Rowan University in his honor. Mr. Rowan and his family have also been generous donors to numerous organizations, including the Boy Scouts and the Doane Academy.
Services will be held at a yet to be determined time in January.