Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, has announced a gift of $25 million from alumni Jean and Ric Edelman in support of scientific education and discovery.
The gift — the second largest in Rowan history and the largest ever given to the university by alumni— will be used to expand Rowan University Fossil Park in Mantua Township and create a destination for families on the same scale as the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Franklin Institute. Plans for the park, which will be named after the Edelmans, include a state-of-the-art museum and visitor center, a fossil preparation lab that will reveal how scientists study fossils, a nature trail, a paleontology-themed playground, social spaces to accommodate special events, and opportunities for students and families to participate in paleontological digs at the site.
"The fossil park that we envision is going to be a world-class draw," said Ric Edelman. "People all across the United States and all across the planet are going to view this as a destination for their own discovery, their participation in the sciences, as well as their deep learning of the planet’s history, which helps to inform where we came from and perhaps where we’re going....[Our goal] is to make this as routine for high school and junior high and even elementary students to come to the fossil park."
Purchased by the university in January for $1.95 million, the 65-acre tract contains thousands of fossils from the Cretaceous Period, the last period of the Mesozoic Era, when dinosaurs dominated the landscape.
"The Edelmans' passion for sharing discovery and science will transform and expand Rowan's capacity to educate for generations to come," said Rowan president Ali A. Houshmand. "Their vision and generosity will make it possible for tens of thousands of students, families, and researchers to explore a range of hands-on sciences at a globally significant site — paleontology, of course, but also geology, biology, environmental science, and more. Visitors will be able to dig up the past and learn about the future of our world through many disciplines."