By Gianluca D’Elia
With a 75 percent majority, Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) passed a no-confidence vote against President Gregory Dell’Omo and his administrative team after a week of online voting, the union announced on April 19.
This is the first time in university history that a no-confidence vote was passed.
Key decisions, such as “the decision to institute layoffs within weeks of taking office in 2015, his refusal to truly negotiate with the AAUP, and his decision to close Westminster Choir College after the 2018 academic year,” were major factors in the AAUP’s passing of the no-confidence vote, according to a union press release.
“A series of rash actions by President Dell’Omo and a decade of dubious financial management by his financial team have compelled Rider’s faculty to pass this motion,” said Art Taylor, AAUP president and professor of information systems.
An open letter to the Board of Trustees from April 24 explained the AAUP’s opposition to the March 28 decision to disaffiliate Westminster from Rider, citing “the clear lack of financial gain from divestiture, the significant loss of reputation (or diminished brand) for Rider, and the significant negative short term impact of divestiture” as major reasons. The open letter is attached to the end of this article as a PDF.
While no-confidence votes at other universities have often led presidents and other university administrators to resign or retire, the AAUP’s goal at Rider, according to the press release, is for Dell’Omo to “take the actions necessary to regain the confidence of the faculty.”
“We believe the president can begin this process by reaching out to faculty,” Taylor said. “We hope he will continue our long-standing tradition of a truly collaborative and inclusive approach to running the university, something we have long found serves our students best.”
In response to the no-confidence vote, President Dell’Omo said, “Despite my disappointment in the result of today’s vote by the AAUP faculty union, I remain deeply committed to working with AAUP leadership to find a solution that ensures Rider’s long-term stability and competitiveness.”
Dell’Omo said he plans to continue to meet with academic departments and other groups across the University to discuss the challenges facing Rider, and that he remains open to “any and all ideas that will help us address these issues.”
“It’s important to remember that our goals here are the same – we are all committed to maintaining the vitality of this University and to providing a transformative educational experience,” Dell’Omo said. “With the support of the Board of Trustees and the work of my administrative team, I am confident we can all work together collaboratively to shape a positive future for Rider University.”