By Lauren Santye
Memorial Hall on Rider’s Lawrenceville campus will finally be revamped, President Mordechai Rozanski told faculty and staff at Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting.
“No more air conditioners, no more dripping air conditioners, no more noise,” he said. “Finally the oldest academic building on campus with be the refreshed academic building.”
Memorial will get a new central cooling system, and each classroom and office will have individual controls. The exterior look of the building will be spiffed up to blend with North Hall. The renovations will start May 20, and they are expected to be completed by Aug. 20. This is a $3 million project, and the funds have come from energy investments, he said.
There was good news also for the Westminster campus. The groundbreaking for the Marion Buckelew Cullen Center will take place May 17. This 12,000-square-foot building will contain a rehearsal/recital hall that can accommodate the entire Symphonic Choir. This $8 million project has been funded through money already raised.
“Westminster will finally have the facilities they deserve,” Rozanski said.
Another facility in the works will allow Tri-generation, the production of heating, cooling and electricity in a new plant to be built by 2014 between the chapel and the Fine Arts parking lot. This $5.5 million plant will be 2,700-square-feet. The building will save Rider approximately $500,000 a year in utilities, and keep 8,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide and 17,000 of sulfuric oxide from the air, Rozanski said.
The president also discussed the state of the university in terms of future goals, initiatives and improvements. Despite challenges that lie ahead, he is confident in the campus community’s innovation and enthusiasm.
“Yes, we, like others, face some serious challenges, but we’re better off than many, and we’re smart and resourceful enough to manage our challenges realistically and positively,” he said.
Because of short- and long-term adjustments, Rider’s budget has been balanced, according to Rozanski. The university has been able to achieve this by making cuts in administration, reducing the number of spring courses offered with low enrollment numbers and other expenditure reductions.
To try to generate more revenue, new programs and activities were created, which have continued to increase entrepreneurial activities and fundraising successes.
“We will need to continue to constrain expenditures as we work to align them with revenues,” he said. “Ultimately, our institutional vitality and progress depend on increasing our revenues and continuing to improve our enrollment rates.”
Rider’s goal over the next two to three years is to grow the undergraduate population. Part of Rider’s strategy is to continue to increase financial aid. Since 2004, financial aid has nearly doubled from $27.7 million to $54.1 million next year.
According to Rozanski, the university continues to face enrollment challenges, but some numbers are looking up. About 8,650 undergraduates students have applied — a 3% increase from last year — and the university has currently reached 51% of its new student deposit goal. A total of 638 students have deposited out of the 1,255 that the university hopes to receive deposits from. This is 38 deposits more than this time last year.
The president cited two reasons why enrollment is a challenge. “First, I think is the impact of a lingering economic downfall on families, which reduced the size of our new student classes in each of the last several years. Second is the success in graduation rates. Although the improvement is praiseworthy, it means fewer students who stay for a fifth or sixth year.”
College of Business
Dr. Steve Lorenzet, dean of CBA, shared his vision for Rider through 2020. He is looking for a collaborative culture that primarily focuses on innovation, the external community and academic distinction. To achieve this, a strategic plan was created, made up of four points: curricular innovation, international initiatives, external relations and faculty development. These points address improvements such as dual admissions with community colleges, expansion of international internships and connecting with influential alumni and business leaders.
School of Education
Dr. Sharon Sherman, dean of the School of Education, shared some of the challenges that her school is facing. Sherman said that the field of education is a competitive environment, and Rider’s biggest competitors are from online providers like the University of Phoenix, where tuition is more affordable.
Sherman added that there is now a state rating of prospective teachers and schools of education. Now, every teacher who graduates from Rider will be rated in a state database, and this will produce a score for Rider. She said that Rider must plan strategically to meet new expectations of accreditors.
School of Liberal Arts and Sciences (SLAS)
The greatest challenge facing a liberal arts education is from people questioning its value, according to Dr. Patricia Mosto, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Sciences (CLAES). She described a focus on globalization, sustainability, lifelong learning and value-added expectations.
Students coming into the school unsure of a major can take advantage of the General Liberal Arts and Science Studies (GLASS). This program helps students in the process of exploring and declaring a major. Mosto said that SLAS is looking to have more shadowing experiences, which can lead to internship opportunities and job offers.
Rozanski concluded with a summation of Rider’s overarching goals and philosophies.
“We foster and incubate talent and produce successful graduates, and we define success as helping each student achieve the greatest academic enrichment and personal growth possible,” Rozanski said. “In other words, we wish each student to graduate with the knowledge and skills, the independence and confidence, to live creative, responsible and gainfully employed lives — lives of limitless possibilities.”