Rowan University established a Center for Neurodiversity on the Glassboro campus on Oct. 20.
“This is about human beings trying to be supportive of other human beings,” said President Ali Houshmand in a statement on the new center. “For me, the issue is not just working with neurodiverse students while they are students, because that we can do. For me the bigger issue is what happens afterwards, when they graduate. I want to make sure they can function, run a business, create wealth and have a happy life.”
Rowan’s Center for Neurodiversity will expand support and academic services to a wide range of students, often high-functioning, high-achieving students whose brains operate somewhat differently than what is considered “neurotypical.”
The university believes the center is the first of its kind in New Jersey.
Neurodiverse people often have one or more conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, dyslexia, or autism spectrum disorder. A team at Rowan has been working on launching a program to bolster its services to neurodiverse students for quite some time, according to the school.
“President Houshmand told me countless times over the past two years that we need to address not only the academic needs but the personal, social and emotional needs of our students, particularly our neurodivergent students,” said Dr. Monika Williams Shealey, senior vice president for Rowan’s Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, which operates the center along with the Division of Academic Affairs. “The Center will be a hub for the neurodiverse community and connect students, faculty and staff to resources and support.”
World-renowned animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin delivered a virtual and interactive keynote address at an event emphasizing the talents and abilities of neurodiverse people. Grandin, on the autism spectrum herself, is the author of more than 60 scientific papers on animal behavior.