Rider’s transformation and progress over recent years caught the attention of Gregory G. Dell’Omo, who will leave his role as president of Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh to fill the shoes of retiring President Mordechai Rozanski. While Rider has made impressive progress under Rozanski, adding new academic programs, constructing new buildings on both campuses and even breaking a Guinness World Record, there are always more advancements to be made. While this year marks the end of an amazing chapter at our university, with every end comes a new beginning. We welcome President Dell’Omo.
After serving as president for 12 years, Rozanski will step down on July 31. Dell’Omo will start on Aug. 1, and he has a long list of goals in mind. They include ensuring that more students apply their knowledge in a professional environment outside the classroom, building up student life and engagement, and bringing the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses closer together.
The Rider News staff agrees that these goals deserve high priority. While we don’t feel that every major should require students to complete an internship, we do feel that almost every area of study should require students to apply their learning outside the classroom. This would better prepare graduates for the transition to the real world and could result in more students landing jobs before they even put on their caps and gowns.
Dell’Omo also expressed his hopes of bringing the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses closer, while still allowing them to maintain individual identities. He even suggested the idea of having a second presidential office in Princeton — and while we agree with his stated concern about “opening a Pandora’s Box,” it is an idea certainly worth considering.
There are more issues to be tackled in the coming years. First, there is a need to establish a more open relationship between administration and students. Students want not only to be able to voice their opinions regarding all aspects of campus life and academics, but to have their voices be a force behind changes and decisions being made. A few of The Rider News staff members interviewed Dell’Omo when his appointment was announced Dec. 4 and felt he may be just the man to get this job done. Dell’Omo was personable and enthusiastic in the interview, as well as during a visit to The Rider News office on Feb. 3, and we only hope that he continues to display that energy throughout his years.
Another issue that will pose a challenge for Dell’Omo is Rider’s ever-increasing tuition, which is only partially offset by ever-increasing financial aid. While the university succeeds in providing its students with a quality education and a college experience that many may consider “priceless,” it is difficult to enjoy that experience with a growing cloud of student loan debt hovering above.
It is undeniable that this quality education comes with massive costs to the university including talented professors, up-to-date technology, ever-improving facilities and student life events that bring energy to the campus. But if tuition continues to rise, as it has, we fear that Rider’s progress will be inhibited. Many students are already working multiple jobs and living in fear of being forced to abandon or postpone their academic careers because they can’t make financial ends meet. If Rider is going to continue to produce quality graduates, we need to enable students to focus on their books rather than their emptying bank accounts.
In addition, the projected demographics for incoming college students — or lack thereof — may only make matters worse. Since 2011, college enrollment has fallen by 930,000 students, reported the Census Bureau last fall. Forbes recently reported that a number of factors are contributing to this trend, including declining birth rates among middle- and high-income families, and that colleges will begin to find it increasingly difficult to fill seats in classrooms and maintain fiscal health. As Rider largely depends on tuition as its main source of income, this changing demographic may present even more financial obstacles in the future.
Rider has made massive advancements under the leadership of President Rozanski and we are confident that progress will continue under our seventh president. While he will have obstacles to overcome, growth can only come from taking on challenges — and the Rider family is ready to take on any challenges that come its way.
The weekly editorial expresses the
majority opinion of The Rider News.
This week’s editorial was written by the Managing Editor, Sarah Bergen.
Printed in the 02/04/15 issue.