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Former Rowan president Donald Farish dies at 75

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Former Rowan University President Donald Farish died Thursday of an illness at a hospital in Boston. He was 75.

Farish served as president of the school in Glassboro from 1998 until 2011, when he became president of Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.

Rowan University President Ali Houshmand confirmed Farish’s death Friday and said he built pride among Rowan alumni and friends, encouraging and equipping educators and creating opportunities for students.

“His leadership and affection for Rowan University were apparent especially as he championed its successes and potential to excel even more,” Houshmand said in a statement. “Dr. Farish arrived at Rowan in 1998 after serving as provost at Sonoma State University. His goal was to take a well-regarded local state college to the next level — and that he did. During his tenure, donors supported his vision by generously funding the Campbell Library, Rohrer College of Business, the Edelman Planetarium, the Bantivoglio Honors College, and Jones Innovation Center.

“Determined to provide facilities that matched the caliber of Rowan’s instruction and meet the demand for increased enrollment, Dr. Farish oversaw the construction of Science Hall, Education Hall, the Town House residential complex, and worked with community leaders on the development of Rowan Boulevard. He also had the foresight to purchase the 600-acre tract we now refer to as the West Campus and was instrumental in the development of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.”

Farish planned to retire next June at the end of his contract, according to Roger Williams University.

“Don Farish capped a distinguished career of service in higher education with his transformative presidency at Roger Williams University,” said Richard Bready, chairman of Roger Williams’ board of trustees, in a statement. “His strong sense of ethics, vision and steady leadership have improved the university in virtually every respect and heightened its national reputation.”

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Farish earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of British Columbia in 1963; master’s in entomology from North Carolina State University in 1966; doctorate in biology from Harvard University in 1970; and law degree from the University of Missouri in 1976. He completed studies at Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management in 1992.

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David Hutter

David Hutter


David Hutter grew up in Darien, Conn., and covers higher education, transportation and manufacturing for NJBIZ. He can be reached at dhutter@njbiz.com.

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