Students on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus have much to look forward to this fall as work begins on the new academic building and Bart Luedeke Center Theater expansion. Though it’s disappointing to see a design as grand as the original plan scaled down, faculty and students agreed that construction needed to begin as soon as possible to expand classroom space. The new plan also complements Memorial Hall, which risked appearing dwarfed next to a larger building. Rider may have been able to borrow an extra few million to secure funding for the original plan, which had practice, recording and rehearsal space, as well as a new theater. But, this would result in larger tuition hikes that hurt enrollment goals, outweighing the benefits of the new building.
Rider can also turn its attention to other priorities such as a new athletics arena, perhaps the university’s most important project yet. At a cost of around $12 million, it is in a range where shorter-term funding is feasible in this economy. In the long run, an arena could improve recruitment for the Broncs, setting our basketball team up for the kind of success that brings national exposure to Rider, augmenting enrollment. Schools such as Gonzaga, Marist and Saint Mary’s are testament to how athletics can transform a university’s competitiveness. Athletics also are a key to better fundraising, which is vital as Rider is looking to expand its pool of resources and donations for a capital campaign.
Performing Arts students who longed for the extra space should take heart that these perks will likely be revisited later on. However, decisions remain to be made, such as whether the only space large enough for future building is the Campus Green, or in areas that may affect parking, such as behind the Fine Arts Building. Building on the Green raises concerns about adequate commencement space, but the construction of an arena large enough to hold graduation ceremonies could solve this problem.
Depending on what other campus needs may be, when Rider gets around to an extra theater and recording studios, maybe they can take form in a building that visually emphasizes renewal and a commitment to student-centeredness. In light of aesthetic features absent in academic buildings on the Lawrenceville campus, more ornate architecture could be of benefit, and the original design for the new academic building obviously intended to address this.
Regardless of what kind of project the university opts for, it’s worth noting that, should the economy remain sluggish, future delays for fundraising won’t be as detrimental, now that Rider is accommodating the necessities of classrooms and theater renovations. What students should appreciate from the construction currently taking place is that our fine university is flourishing.
Junior public relations major