He was born in Raphine, Virginia to Dr. Henry M. Rowan Sr. and Margaret Frances Boyd Rowan in 1923 (coincidentally the same year the school which now carries his name was founded). He grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey and, after serving as a bomber pilot in World War II with the United States Army Air Forces, Rowan attended Williams College and graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with honors with a degree in electrical engineering.
Rowan originally worked for Ajax Electrothermic Corporation of Trenton, New Jersey. He suggested improvements to the furnaces made by Ajax—shorter power leads and heavier copper bus bar—but the company did not implement his suggestions. Rowan left Ajax and decided to start his own company, Inductotherm Corp. Rowan designed and built his first induction furnace in 1953 in the garage of his home in Ewing Township, New Jersey with the help of his wife. Expanding from this first induction furnace Rowan created Inductotherm Industries Inc. which has since grown to include 80 subsidiaries throughout North America, South America, Europe, India, Asia and Australia. Today, there are more than 27,000 Inductotherm induction melting installations worldwide and they account for more than half of the melting systems in the world today.
In spring 1992, Rowan and his wife Betty pledged $100 million to Glassboro State College, which was renamed Rowan University the same year in his honor. At the time, it was the largest gift to a public college in the history of higher education. The school now has an engineering building named after him.
Rowan and his wife were strong supporters of Doane Academy in Burlington, NJ. In January 2015 they created the Henry M. and Eleanor E. Rowan Endowment. This endowment was created with a gift of $17 Million. The Rowans, personally and through their family foundation, have donated over $30 Million to Doane Academy over the last several years.
Rowan competed in the 1992 Olympic Sailing trials in Miami, but failed to qualify. He wrote an autobiography titled The Fire Within in 1995 with John Calhoun Smith.
On December 9, 2015, Rowan died at the age of 92.
- Remembering Henry Rowan
- Henry Rowan featured in Rowan Magazine
- Inductotherm Corp.
- Malcolm Gladwell podcast - "My Little Hundred Million"
- Rowan, Henry M. "United States Public Records, 1970-2009". Retrieved 11 December 2015.
- Henry M. Rowan (Dec. 4, 1923 - Dec. 9, 2015). Rowan University, December 2015.
- Roberts, Sam. "Henry M. Rowan, Industrialist Who Gave $100 Million Gift to University, Dies at 92", The New York Times, December 13, 2015. Accessed December 23, 2017. "Henry Madison Rowan Jr. was born in Raphine, Va., on Dec. 4, 1923. His father was an obstetrician. His mother, the former Margaret Boyd, was a biological researcher.... He was raised in Ridgewood, N.J., in Bergen County, and attended Williams College in Massachusetts before transferring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."
- Kent, Spencer. "Henry Rowan, benefactor of Rowan University, dies at 92", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, December 10, 2015. Accessed December 23, 2017. "Originally from Ridgewood, Rowan studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II before starting his own business."
- Staff. "Fire strikes Rowan estate mansion in Westampton", Courier-Post, November 10, 2016. Accessed December 23, 2017. "Westampton - A fire was reported at the historic Rowan estate mansion Thursday, according to police reports.... The home, located on county parkland, was formerly owned by the late industrialist and philanthropist Henry Rowan."