Rider students can look forward to a new academic building on the Westminster campus and a sports complex on the Lawrenceville campus — both are apart of the university’s near-term goals, according to the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Gary Shapiro, ’72.
Shapiro participated in a Q&A with The Rider News via email to give insight into his background and discuss the current financial state of the university.
Does Rider University have a long-term master plan and, if so, how far out does it go? Has Rider run out of room to add new academic buildings, dormitories, athletic fields, etc., or are there still ways to accommodate more facilities? What is the next priority in terms of new construction on the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses? What is the status of a new basketball arena and what is a realistic estimate for when it might be built?
We certainly have more room to grow as reflected in our facilities master plans, specific to each campus, in support of the university’s Strategic Plan. In addition to our continuing renovation or maintenance priorities, the facilities master plans’ near-term goals are the construction of a new academic building on the Westminster campus and a sports complex on the Lawrenceville campus, both of which are the focus of our current fundraising mini-campaigns. Additional priorities include the renovation of Memorial Hall and several other energy-efficiency projects beginning next summer, as well as the continued upgrade or renovation of residence halls and academic facilities on both campuses. The success of our fundraising mini-campaigns, which rely on donor gifts and are making good progress, will determine the construction timelines.
What are the two or three most important areas you believe Rider should continue focusing on to further improve its academic performance and its reputation?
As my predecessor, Howard Stoeckel, indicated last fall, the Board is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Innovation Agenda, the successor stage of the Strategic Plan. The Innovation Agenda reaffirms the five strategic directions that were the foundation of the Strategic Plan in the context of five major areas of focus over the next several years: academic quality and vitality, proactive enrollment management, rigorous financial and resource management, facilities enhancement and robust fundraising. Our collective goal, to be achieved through the good work of faculty and administration, is to provide the highest quality education for all our students. This involves the renewal of existing programs, the development of new programs and our continued commitment to student scholarship/financial aid support. Our ongoing successes in all the areas I have discussed have contributed to the reputational excellence that Rider enjoys.
Can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in [the] Somerville-Bridgewater, N.J. [area] and graduated from Rider in 1972 with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce (accounting major). I spent eight years in public accounting and six as a partner in a mid-sized firm. In 1980, I became an entrepreneur and founded a national equipment finance company, which I later sold to a bank. I have founded or purchased over 25 companies in manufacturing, finance and healthcare over the past 30 years. Today, my investment firm owns several healthcare and finance businesses. I am also the founding principal of National Financial Companies, LLC which specializes in the growth and development of businesses that provide needed services within the healthcare and finance industries.
How long have you served as Chairman? How long does your term run? When does it expire?
My current term as Board chair began this past June and runs through the end of June 2013. Board officers serve one-year terms for a maximum of four consecutive terms. I previously served as Board chair from June 2006 through June 2008.
What were the most important lessons you learned at Rider?
My undergraduate years at Rider provided opportunities for me to think independently, learn, socialize and become a responsible individual. Rider’s rigorous accounting and business program and my three years as a resident advisor contributed greatly to my college experience. My Rider degree provided a solid foundation upon which I built a successful business career.
What strikes you as most different about Rider of today, compared to the time you spent here as a student?
Rider has advanced since my undergraduate days in virtually all areas — academics, student life and facilities. Today, Rider is a true university, providing expanded academic offerings, including on-line courses and degree programs, and vibrant student life opportunities across its two campuses. We have much to look forward to as we celebrate soon Rider’s 150th anniversary of providing an extraordinary education for extraordinary students.
Printed in the 11-30-12 edition