By Katie Zeck
Rider is putting increased focus on maintaining the value of a college degree, according to President Mordechai Rozanski, who spoke at the Town Hall Meeting on Thursday in the Yvonne Theater.
Rozanski addressed the current progress the University is making in terms of student success, graduation and retention rates, enrollment, financial aid and Facilities projects, as well as future goals. Rozanski said that the combination of progress in these different areas adds to the value of a Rider education.
“A college degree is still the most valuable preparation for success in life and a career,” he said. “But it’s not just about the degree. It’s the full four-year experience that’s important because we are in the education and personal development business. And that’s where Rider does a great job, as reflected in student achievement, faculty excellence and high-quality, innovative programs.”
Rider is taking steps to ensure each student receives the education and experience needed to get a job after graduation and do so affordably.
“We work as hard as we can to make a Rider education a valuable education in terms of excellence of the education experience,” Rozanski said. “We also want to help families be able to afford [Rider] and that means we don’t want them to just look at the sticker price, but the net price and that involves a commitment to financial aid.”
Rozanski addressed that there is an 8 percent increase, or $3.7 million, in total financial aid.
Rozanski said that since 2004, the financial aid budget has increased 79 percent. He also informed the audience that Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) funding was restored this spring, and he is optimistic about gaining the funding for next year as well.
“Let’s see what happens June 30,” he said. “I met with a number of legislators. They’re telling us they’re committed [to granting TAG funding]. I believe it, but I want to see it.”
As a way to enhance the overall academic success of Rider students, the University has implemented new specialized programs.
“There’s no one magic bullet that helps advance student success,” Rozanski said. “There are multiple approaches because there are multiple audiences we’re dealing with. It’s a process of circles within circles, some overlapping, but all helping.”
According to Rozanski, the key element in many of these circles is small group experience and personal attention.
The Discovery program, Supplemental Instruction (SI) and the Rider Advantage Program (RAP) are a few of those student academic support initiatives.
“What these all have in common is a focus on freshmen and undeclared freshmen who are the most vulnerable because they can’t identify or bond with faculty or staff in a significant way,” Rozanski said. “These programs provide that support for them with these bonding experiences.”
The SI program provides students in historically difficult freshman classes with a chance to receive academic support from an upperclassman who previously had that class. Studies done by the University of the SI program show that 82 percent of the 551 students who attended the supplemental tutoring sessions received an A, B or C in the class and only 67 percent of the 646 students who did not attend received an A, B or C.
“SI appears to be contributing to the success of the students,” Rozanski said. “The more successful they are, the better we feel and the better they feel and the better they’ll succeed to graduation.”
The president also discussed many successes the University saw this past year in both student academic accomplishments and broader institutional recognitions.
“They do us proud,” Rozanski said in response to a list of students who won academic competitions and were actively involved in independent research.
He also showcased the successes of Rider’s faculty and staff in the areas of research, honors and published works.
“[Our professors] practice in their field and our students benefit tremendously from that,” Rozanski said.
Many of the schools within the University received national accreditations this year.
The College of Business Administration was granted the Association to Advanace Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) reaccreditation in business and accounting and the School of Education met all of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) standards among others.
Rozanski also focused on the University’s Periodic Review Report (PRR), which is a requirement of all institutions as a part of a 10-year accreditation cycle.
“Our PRR focuses on implementation of strategic plan and innovation agenda within the context of the four standards,” Rozanski explained.
Rozanski highlighted many of the initiatives that were put into effect on campus this past year as well as new projects that will be enacted over the summer and in the fall.
A few of the new academic programs that will be available in the fall include a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in music curriculum, a new business curriculum and a Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) online degree program.
The Rider community will also notice many physical improvements to the campus over the next year. These include new dining facilities on both campuses, new faculty offices in the Science Building, upgrades to the Yvonne Theater, a new parking lot at WCC, and a handicap accessible ramp for Moore Library.
Looking ahead, Rozanski said the University plans to continue implementing new and renewed programs, remain proactive in enrollment management and fundraising efforts and continue facilities enhancement.