The classroom is much like every other class I’ve been in; the teacher stands at the head of the class, engaging students in fruitful discussion. But, the class belongs to an advertising program that was nearly cut, and there is still uneasiness, at least on my behalf, about the future of the program at Rider.
Rider’s enrollment shortfall has placed the university in a tough spot, and with new President Dell’Omo at the helm, there was the scare of program cuts. It’s unfair to put that blame solely on Rider’s seventh president, but the unease still exists after the rapid progression of his first months in office.
Now, administration, faculty and students are expected to celebrate their president at his inauguration on April 8. This is going to be awkward. There’s no way around it. If this is a celebration solely about Dell’Omo, it will be tense and difficult.
As a result, it has become obvious that this inauguration cannot be about Dell’Omo. With all of the financial troubles and all of the fear, how can students like myself watch faculty give back so much only to witness the administration celebrate a wild first semester of Dell’Omo’s tenure?
I do not want to take this time to fire words of hatred at the administration, because I’m sure they, like the faculty, are doing their best to convey the benefit of pursuing a degree at this university.
Of course, the university would be remiss if it ignored Dell’Omo’s becoming president, considering a change in guard is a rare, momentous occasion. If history is any indication — there have been just six previous presidents in Rider’s first 151 years — Dell’Omo would certainly seem to be in line for a long tenure.
Therefore, the point of this editorial is to simply offer up thoughts the administration might keep in mind, if it plans to move forward with the inauguration.
Celebrate the students,
not the president
Rider students are unhappy, as evidenced by The Rider News Student Satisfaction survey, and we no longer have the luxury of having our university name carry us like the Denver Broncos’ defense carried a 39-year-old Peyton Manning to his second Super Bowl victory. But we are the Broncs, and we have plenty to be proud of. Many of our programs and organizations have won awards, though the university does not do enough to emphasize that to current students, let alone to the world.
So for this inauguration, we should celebrate, but we should also recognize the immense talent that enrolls in our university.
We must remind the students why they are here, before we can convince the community that Rider is a strong academic institution. The inauguration could be the catalyst to inspire confidence in our university.
Provide incentive to attend
Making students take an interest in the inauguration is a seemingly Herculean task given the disconnect between the administration and most of its communities. So Rider will have to be frugally aggressive in providing some selling points to draw students to the event.
Rider could provide giveaways for the students after the inauguration and could include a reflection on all of the external awards, presentations and grants that students and student organizations have received. Rider could recruit several of its talented musicians to perform live music for an after-party of sorts. Of course, free food always draws students — though it should be noted that Aramark food might not excite.
If that cannot be done, forgo the inauguration just as St. Leo University’s new president, William J. Lennox Jr., did. He did not want a pompous parade around campus; he preferred to direct that money into what matters. Rather than spend the inauguration money on himself, he put it back into the university, awarding five $2,500 scholarships to students.
Keep it short and cheap
Though invigorating Rider’s campus with this event would seem to be a good concept in theory, the university cannot afford — economically or figuratively — to make this a weeklong honeymoon. It needs to use this inauguration to remind our campus that there is greatness here, now get back to work.
Because of the recent negative headlines Rider has grabbed, one would hope the university would be monetarily prudent and work to avoid granting Dell’Omo a particularly garish celebration.
While Rider is one-tenth of the size of the University of Texas at Austin, it must be careful to avoid the inauguration scandal President Gregory Fenves was involved in.
When approached with an Open Public Records Act request from the Dallas Morning News, the university reported the inauguration would cost $28,000. In the end, the university admitted spending more than $214,000 on the event. If Rider even approaches $20,000 — about 10 percent of the University of Texas’s final cost — it would be quite outrageous.
If we are to bounce back from back-to-back under-enrolled years, the administration might keep the aforementioned ideas in mind. Not doing so could deepen the craters of disgust between students and administration, as well as between faculty and administration.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Executive Editor, Thomas Regan.
Printed in the 02/10/16 issue.