In 1917, 107 residents of Glassboro raised more than $7,000 to purchase 25 acres, which they offered to the state for free if the borough was selected as the site. The land tract included the Whitney mansion (now known as Hollybush) and carriage house. Before the purchase, the entire property belonged to the Whitney family, prominent owners of the Whitney Glass Works during the 1800's. This show of support, along with the site's natural beauty, convinced the selection committee that Glassboro was the perfect location.
In September 1923, Glassboro Normal School opened with 236 students arriving by train to convene in the school's first building, now called Bunce Hall. Dr. Jerohn Savitz, the institution's first president, expanded the curriculum as the training of teachers became more sophisticated.
As one of America’s most popular poets, Robert Frost was awarded Pulitzer Prizes for poetry in 1924, 1931, 1937, and 1943. Between Pulitzers two and three in April 1935, he brought his verses to campus.
An eyewitness account:
"Recalled for me a spring day in 1935 when Mr. Frost visited the small State Teachers' College at Glassboro, N.J. . . .
He held us spellbound for more than an hour, despite the sounding of buzzers signifying the period's end, and while the next class came quietly in and stood listening at the back of the room . ."(2)
The renowned Carl Sandburg— poet, essayist, novelist, biographer, children’s book author, and Pulitzer Prize winner— came to campus in October 1936 and again in December 1978.
Despite the rigors of the Depression, the program was expanded to four years in 1934, and in 1937 the school changed its name to New Jersey State Teachers College at Glassboro. The college gained a national reputation as a leader in the field of reading education and physical therapy when it opened a clinic for children with reading disabilities in 1935 and added physical therapy for the handicapped in 1944. The college was one of the first in the country to recognize these needs and was in the forefront of the special education movement.
Rowan's second president, Dr. Edgar Bunce, created a junior college program in 1946 to serve World War II veterans taking advantage of the GI Bill.
In the 1950's, Dr. Thomas Robinson, the University's third president, expanded the curriculum, increased enrollment and added several buildings to the campus.
In 1958, the school's name was changed to Glassboro State College to better reflect its mission.
The Temptations performed here in 1967.
October 30, 1970 - Black Sabbath played their first American gig here.(1)
Baton in hand, world-renowned conductor Arthur Fiedler brought part of the Boston Pops and his genius to the campus in 1972.
September 29, 1973 - Actress Jane Fonda spoke out against the Vietnam War in Esby Gym.(1)
Timothy Leary spoke about his theories on space migration, intelligence increase and life extension here in October, 1976.(1)
Dizzie Gillespie performed here in 1978. "You only have so many notes," John Birks Gillespie once explained, "and what makes a style is how you get from one note to the other."(1)
Jerry performed here on
2/15/81 Jerry Garcia Band
1.)^Quigley, Patricia A., Classics and Culture, 75 Years of Big Name Visitors to Campus, Rowan Magazine, Fall 1998, vol. 4, #1, pg.26-32.
2.)^Frost, Robert,Frost, Elinor, Frost, Arnold E., Family Letters of Robert and Elinor Frost, Volume 873951875.