By Stephen Neukam
Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo secured a two-year contract extension that will keep him in his position until at least 2024 after a unanimous Board of Trustees vote, the university announced on Oct. 26.
Dell’Omo, who was renewed for a second four-year term in 2018, had two years remaining on his current agreement before the latest extension. Chairman of the Board of Trustees Robert S. Schimek ’87 said in a statement that the extension “reaffirms our steadfast support of President Dell’Omo’s leadership of our university.”
“Additionally, the Board considered the importance of this moment in time, as he stewards the University through the many challenges related to COVID-19,” said Schimek.
Associate Vice President of University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown said that it was “not uncommon for a board to consider extending contracts in the final year or two of a president’s current contract if all parties are excited to maintain the strong leadership provided by the president.”
Dell’Omo’s five-year tenure has been marked with decisions met with controversy, many of which Schimek points out as accomplishments in his statement, including capital investments into campus infrastructure and the consolidation of Westminster Choir College to Lawrenceville, which Schimek claimed was “concluded” over the summer. Lawsuits over the move are still outstanding.
The president has also been knocked by a rocky relationship with faculty union leadership and members, starting with a 2017 vote of no confidence less than two years into his position.
Brown said that the extension does not have any bearing on Dell’Omo’s compensation since his pay is calculated on a year-to-year basis. Brown did not say whether the extension will include deferred payment from the pay cut that Dell’Omo has taken this year due to the pandemic.
Rider’s Chapter of the American Association of University Professors President Arthur Taylor, a professor in the Information Systems, Analytics and Supply Chain Management Department, criticized the board’s decision, saying the union leadership had not seen any “significant” accomplishments in Dell’Omo’s administration.
“We believe that in choosing to renew Greg Dell’Omo’s contract, Rider’s Board of Trustees continues on the same disastrous path they began six years ago,” said Taylor. “The university’s declining enrollment, the overspending on building projects, the bloated administrative budget, a disastrous and expensive attack on a fully enrolled college, and Rider’s declining financial status are the direct result of Greg Dell’Omo’s management decisions as supported by the board of trustees.”
“The AAUPs vote of no-confidence in April of 2017 summarized faculty’s opinion of Greg Dell’Omo and that opinion has not changed: we have no confidence in his leadership,” said Taylor.
Schimek also noted Dell’Omo’s fundraising success, including a record-breaking $10 million gift in 2019 from alumnus Norm Brodsky. The college of business was renamed in his honor following the donation.
Dell’Omo has also overseen an expansion of undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as a new strategic plan for the university that included the implementation of the Engaged Learning Program and increases in career support.
As the coronavirus pandemic grips the university financially, Dell’Omo has recently articulated a vision of cost-cutting that is already coming to fruition. Last month, the university decided to close its College of Continuing Studies and eliminate five total positions, including the dean. The move is expected to save $500,000 annually, according to university officials. The faculty union, however, disputes the university’s ability to unilaterally close a college that is part of the collective bargaining agreement, and has vowed to take steps to “defend academic governance.”