Rowan University President Ali Houshmand has planted his peppers, with help from students, volunteers and alumni. Like last year, he will spend time each early morning, watering, weeding and otherwise tending the produce.
He’s willing to do a lot for his students.
In this case, the long-time educator with an engineering background was turning the jalapeños, Carolina Reapers, ghost and other peppers he planted into scholarships for those with the greatest need among the 18,500+ students at Rowan University in South Jersey.
Dr. Houshmand, widely recognized for innovative approaches to curbing the cost of a four-year degree, committed to professionally producing the hot sauce that he has gifted family and friends with for years after a waiting list grew for the batch he had auctioned off at a campus holiday fundraiser in 2016. This year, Houshmand’s Hazardous Hot Sauce is making its debut by invitation at the Fancy Food Show in New York City.
On a 40’x90’ lot about a mile from Rowan’s main campus, located a half hour outside of Philadelphia, Dr. Houshmand grows a portion of the peppers he turns into three types of Houshmand’s Hazardous Hot Sauce.
Last October, the University officially launched sales of the hot sauce (along with tee-shirts, mugs and aprons), with all proceeds from the privately funded initiative going to the Rowan University Student Emergency Scholarship Fund. Rowan sold jars at Homecoming and held the official public unveiling of the line on Oct. 24 when cast-iron-stomach competitors battled it out in “Wing Wars” at the Glassboro branch of Chickie’s & Pete’s, a popular restaurant in the Philadelphia region. They have raised about $25,000 since October.
Dr. Houshmand, who shares the same concerns most American college and university presidents do about affordability, has introduced a number of initiatives – some in conjunction with local community colleges – to help Rowan graduates cut the cost of a four-year degree. To the best of our knowledge, he is the only president hitting the kitchen (with a professional team, staff and volunteers) to turn green (and red, yellow and brown) peppers into “green.”