By Shaun Chornobroff
Despite rising tensions between the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the administration, AAUP President Barbara Franz said the union had a positive atmosphere in its meeting on March 1.
The meeting occurred the day before the planned “Save Rider Rally” the AAUP executive committee is holding to coincide with the Board of Trustees meeting on campus.
“[The meeting] was surprisingly good. … considering that we are asking our faculty to stand up for their rights and to stand up to continue representing the position that they have, which is, the board should wake up to the economic situation the university finds itself in because of the mismanagement of the current administration,” said Franz. “I think people are ready to put some action behind our words.”
The rally is scheduled to take place in front of the Bart Luedeke Center on March 2 from 12-1 p.m. and is supposed to serve as a message to the Rider Board of Trustees to remove Rider President Greg Dell’Omo.
Student Government Association (SGA) President Elizabeth O’Hara said SGA is not explicitly encouraging students to attend or sit out of the rally; however, she wants students to know that SGA is an ally.
“I think it’s important to let [students] know that [SGA] is always here to answer their questions and collect their feedback and opinion on the matter, even if it’s not going to a demonstration such as this one. I think students should speak up and ask questions, express their viewpoints on all these issues,” said O’Hara, a senior computer science major.
One source of continued tension across the Rider community has been the voluntary separation program, as well as the academic and administrative prioritization processes that are designed to trim Rider’s projected $20 million deficit.
In an email sent on March 1, Dell’Omo updated the university on the voluntary separation program. The program is a “workforce reduction strategy” the school announced in January, allowing full-time, non-faculty employees to voluntarily leave the university with a financial package.
The school received 49 applications for voluntary separation, of those only 29 were approved for the program, the email said. The employees approved will be departing the university between March 4 and Sept. 4.
The email said an initial analysis indicates the program will lead to long-term savings of approximately $2.5 million.
“This is a positive step forward towards addressing Rider’s budget challenges,” Dell’Omo said in the email.
Dell’Omo said in the communication he expects to receive a final recommendation from the academic prioritization task force this week and is expecting a similar report from the administrative task force by mid-March.
Sarah Siock contributed to this story.