Rowland was a tall, lanky man from east Texas in North America and spoke with a Texan drawl. He had a heroic-looking chin but receding hair. While serving as an administrative lieutenant, Rowland was politically and strategically savvy, though young and inexperienced.
In 2273, as Kirk's aide, he made himself familiar with all of Kirk's captain's logs and missions, including the events on Neural. He agreed to accompany Kirk on a secret follow-up mission to investigate increased Klingon activity in Neural's sector and to determine whether the Klingons had kept their promise to stay away from the planet. Rowland weighed Kirk's request for no security against Admiral Elaine Kucera's insistence for six security officers and chose two guards to accompany them, Apryl Burch and Titus Hay. He chartered J. David Grumm's civilian transport ship Captain Cook to take them to Neural. Rowland arranged for the four officers to meet early one morning in Golden Gate Park, where Grumm beamed them up.
The trip to Neural was the farthest Rowland had ever traveled from Earth. After reconnoitering the Neural city of Victory, Rowland and Kirk were en route back to the settlement of Freehold when they heard gunshots. They saw Freeholders Tyree, Elanna, Nyran, and Keran being taken captive by Victor slavers. To protect Tyree and get a better look at a nearby Klingon leutrinium mine, they allowed themselves to be captured as well.
Following a week's slave labor, hundreds of Freeholders came to rescue them, and fighting ensued. During the skirmish, Rowland sacrificed his life to keep Tyree from falling into the mining pit. His body was later retrieved by the USS Potemkin. (TOS novel: Serpents in the Garden)