Fixing New Jersey Schools: The Glassboro Normal School

Many Rowan students travel through Bunce Hall every weekday for class. But do these students know that this building was the birth of the university?

Bunce Hall was originally known as the Glassboro Normal School. The school opened in 1923, dedicated to train students to become teachers. At the time, the state lacked the institutions where teachers could get the proper training they needed for the field. After completing the two-year program, students would be certified to teach in New Jersey schools.

The school opened in September 1923 with 236 students. Most of the students came by train according to Rowan’s website. Mary Lee Donahue says in her book, “A Brief History of Glassboro” that another reason for the normal school’s creation was because South Jersey’s population was growing. With a growing population comes young children, and New Jersey had created public education in 1896.

Donahue says that the school was built on property owned by the famous Whitney Family, who had taken over the glassworks in Glassboro a few years prior to the school’s opening. It took 107 Glassboro residents to raise enough money to purchase the land from the family. The residents then donated the land to the state in order to open the school.

Bunce Hall, Originally the Glassboro Normal School under construction. Photo credited to Rowan University Archives
According to Rowan’s website, the school survived the rigorous years of the Great Depression, eventually becoming a four-year institution in 1934. After it’s transition, the Glassboro Normal School became the New Jersey State Teacher’s College at Glassboro. It experienced another name change and and became Glassboro State College and now is known as Rowan University.


Glassboro’s iconic image for providing education to students started from a small group of people who wanted make their state’s teachers better.

Though the Glassboro Normal School is gone, the fundamentals of training educators has continued at Rowan University. I’ve heard education majors say why they decided to attend Rowan because of its credentials for its tenured educational program. However, I never learned about where the programs foundation started from. It’s because of the Glassboro Normal School that Rowan’s Education Majors graduate and impact the lives of young children.

Bunce Hall – the original Glassboro Normal School – is located that the intersection of University Blvd, Whitney Ave, and Oakwood Ave in Glassboro, New Jersey


One thought on “Fixing New Jersey Schools: The Glassboro Normal School

  1. Great write up! My mother has a pretty good streak with the school – she received her Masters Degree from Glassboro College, an additional certification from Rowan College, and then her ESL Certification from Rowan University. It’s the school of 1000 names.

    I feel like a slacker, it only had one name when I went there.

    Liked by 1 person

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