By Shanna O’Mara
In the midst of financial struggles and unrest among some faculty and students at Rider, the university is making strides to improve the economic and social atmosphere for the cranberry community.
Rider’s comprehensive strategic planning process began in February 2016 and is now nearing completion, thanks to the steering committee and six working groups.
“Over 100 individuals — students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees — have worked hard over the past year to get us to where we are now with a proposed new mission with Rider PROMISE, vision and Strategic Plan,” said Debbie Stasolla, associate vice president for planning.
Themes established in the proposal include a focus on student growth and development; the branding, marketing and promotion of the university; the importance of the school’s people; the strategic cultivation, management and investment of institution resources; and a commitment to planning, implementation and continuous improvement.
The Board of Trustees has reviewed the plan, according to Stasolla, and the university has already begun implementing methods by which specific goals, such as attracting potential students and maintaining the graduation rate, will be met.
Other working groups focused on areas such as engaged learning, financial resources and employee engagement as well as facilities and infrastructure.
“Not every functional area is represented in a strategic plan, nor should it be necessarily,” Stasolla said. “These are the higher-level institution-wide goals and priorities. There may be an academic department that isn’t represented in the plan. Student government may not be represented in the plan. My office may not be cited very specifically in the plan, and that’s OK. What I can do, or what student government can do or the alumni board, is take a look at these themes and try to understand from the perspective of the work that I do, ‘How do I contribute to those themes in my work?’”
While the plan may not specifically mention groups on campus, the proposal intends to help all, according to Stasolla.
“Committed to student growth, transformation and leadership, we connect rigorous academic, artistic and professional programs of study with authentic learning experiences that engage students inside and outside the classroom,” the January 2017 proposal reads. “We prepare graduates to thrive professionally and to be lifelong independent learners and responsible citizens who embrace diversity, support the common good, and contribute meaningfully to the changing world in which they live and work.”
In 1883, Andrew J. Rider declared that Rider’s future was full of promise, as documented in the history books written by Dr. Walter A. Brower, ’48, former dean of the school of education. Ryan Hopely, Student Government Association (SGA) president, took this declaration and ran with it.
“In the spring, when the steering committee was meeting, Ryan had found an opportunity to share with the Lawrenceville SGA some of what was happening in the strategic planning process, and one of the pieces of feedback he brought back was that students wanted some kind of visual representation of the mission,” Stasolla said. “That’s where the Rider PROMISE evolved.”
Hopely is proud of the addition he contributed to the revised plan.
“[The PROMISE] was my idea, and I think it will really help the University steer its messaging going forward,” he said.
On Oct. 6 and Oct. 13, 2016, two forums were held to discuss a new mission statement which reads:
“Rider University welcomes students from throughout the region, across the nation and around the world who seek to be challenged and supported as active members of our inclusive and vibrant living and learning community. Committed to student growth, transformation and leadership, we connect rigorous academic, artistic and professional programs of study with authentic learning experiences that engage students inside and outside the classroom. We prepare graduates to thrive professionally and to be lifelong independent learners and responsible citizens who embrace diversity, support the common good, and contribute meaningfully to the changing world in which they live and work.”
Revising the university’s mission statement was a community effort, according to Stasolla.
“This is the second version of the mission that our community is seeing because we introduced an earlier draft of the mission back in early fall when we held forums in October and received feedback from everyone,” she said. “We incorporated some of that feedback as we redrafted the mission, and then the steering committee, in December, came up with this latest version.”
According to Stasolla, the plan is expected to be approved by the Board of Trustees later this semester. The university will be accredited by Middle States the following spring.
The proposal can be viewed on the myRider announcements channel as well as on Canvas.
Rider’s new PROMISE
In pursuit of our mission, we are committed to fulfilling the Rider PROMISE
Our graduates are:
Prepared to contribute meaningfully to the changing world in which they live and work.
Respectful of all people, rights and freedoms and individual differences.
Open to a life of independent learning.
Motivated to be responsible citizens who support the common good.
Innovative, creative and resourceful.
Skilled and thriving and professionals, educators, artists and performers.
Engaged in their communities as leaders and role models.