During the early morning hours this summer and early fall, when some college presidents were just waking up or maybe checking their first emails of a busy day, Dr. Ali Houshmand was picking his peppers. 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 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.
On a 40’x40’ lot about a mile from Rowan’s main campus, located a half hour outside of Philadelphia, Houshmand planted, tended, nurtured and harvested a portion of the peppers he turned into three types of Houshmand’s Hazardous Hot Sauce.
The University recently 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 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.
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 from the Rutgers Food Innovation Center) to turn green (and red, yellow and brown) peppers into “green.”
All three flavors of the sauce and all of the swag are available at Rowan.edu/hotsauce.