Glassboro-based Rowan University today announced the formation of the Steve Sweeney Center for Public Policy to conduct evidence-based research, support workforce development and formulate answers to New Jersey’s most complex policy issues. Former State Senator Steve Sweeney will serve of chairperson of the center’s advisory board.
“The new policy center will tackle the toughest of issues and make its evidence-based research available to the public both for transparency and to enable greater citizen participation in state and local government issues,” said Rowan University President Ali Houshmand. “We are pleased and honored that Senator Sweeney accepted our invitation to help guide the public policy center we envisioned. Having worked for decades with both Democratic and Republican administrations, he has built relationships across the aisle to develop policy and enact change to improve New Jersey.”
“New Jersey needs an independent bipartisan public policy center that brings together the best experts and rigorous researchers to develop pragmatic, short- and long-term solutions that improve our state’s competitiveness, grow our economy, develop our workforce, enhance our quality of life and make the state more affordable for everyone who wants to study, work, live and retire here,” Sweeney said. “We are going to do public policy in public. I am gratified that Rowan University shares this vision and honored that the policy center will bear my name.”
Well aware of the imperative to educate students in public policy, Rowan began to plan a graduate degree in the field in 2019 and began planning the formation of a policy center focused on New Jersey issues in 2021. Acknowledging the continued and urgent need to address policy with the benefit of interdisciplinary and evidence-based perspectives, Rowan’s Board of Trustees approved the degree program, and now the university is creating the center.
“Senator Sweeney’s interest in bringing light to important policy issues coincides perfectly with the Rowan’s interest to further develop applied research and career-centered programming,” said Nawal Ammar, dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, the academic division in which the center will be housed.
Mark Magyar, who served as Sweeney’s Senate policy director, has been appointed as founding director of the Sweeney Center. He will teach an undergraduate course in state and local government in the fall and the graduate course in public finance next spring. An award-winning Statehouse reporter who also served as a senior policy adviser to Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Magyar taught labor studies at Rutgers University for 12 years.
Anthony Lowman, Rowan University provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, said the addition of the Sweeney Center for Public Policy would strengthen Rowan’s Public Policy program as it prepares to launch a master’s degree in public policy in September.
“Making the Sweeney Center an integral part of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences will provide strategic linkages for our faculty and afford valuable opportunities for our graduate and undergraduate students in all disciplines to work on interdisciplinary and cutting-edge public policy research projects with top public officials and thought leaders,” said Lowman.
The Sweeney Center will attract policy fellows who are among the leading experts in their fields to coordinate major policy research. “We plan to expand scholarship and research at the center through philanthropic efforts that support the center,” said Ammar.
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