Talk of a budget crisis and section cuts have floated around campus in recent months, creating worry and tension among students and faculty. But is our school really headed down a road of financial ruin?
In an effort to improve the campus for students, Rider has come a long way in the past few years. The transformations of Memorial Hall, Cranberry’s, Daly’s and the rise of North Hall have enriched the feel and function of the entire campus. However, these projects came at a hefty price.
A recent financial analysis commissioned by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) examined the effects of these investments on the status of the university. According to the analysis, Rider borrowed some money and used monetary gifts for the projects, but mostly dipped into savings and reserves.
These renovations were necessary and succeeded in making the campus a more modern, comfortable environment for students. The investments were in no way futile, but instead improved Rider.
The report says Rider’s financial status is in pretty decent shape, in part because debt is relatively low. However, because much of the university’s savings were put into the renovations, the future budgets must be approached with caution.
The administration puts more stress on cutting expenditures and disagrees with some of the AAUP interpretations.
After a period of immense investment, decreased enrollment has caused red flags to rise. According to the financial analysis, Rider relies on student enrollment and fees for 90% of its income, making enrollment and retention vital. But this is an obstacle that can be tackled.
In order to move toward financial stability, Rider must attract future students, ensure that those students do not transfer or drop out, and provide its students with satisfactory and timely educational experiences.
By producing satisfied alumni, Rider is also creating its own network of positive advertising. That supportive conversation is key to creating the reputation that Rider needs in order to increase enrollment and retention levels.
To convince students to come to Rider — and keep them from transferring or leaving — faculty must put in extra effort to ensure that students are satisfied with their experiences here. Advisers must develop relationships with their students from the start, helping them work toward their goals through clear planning. Instructors must also take time to help their students succeed because one setback could seriously disrupt a student’s path to graduation.
Rider must provide students with the resources and flexibility needed to complete their degrees in a timely matter. Cutting course sections in order to stay within Rider’s tight budget is far from the answer. This will only discourage students, forcing them to give up on their dreams at Rider, or keeping them here for far too long.
Dragging a degree into a fifth year is far too expensive for the students because Rider, and all colleges and universities, cannot provide much additional financial aid because of limits on government funding, such as Pell grants and Stafford loans. In the long run, extending undergraduate education beyond four years reflects negatively on Rider.
Rider graduates who look back on their years of growth and experience at this university positively are more likely to give back in the form of donations when they have established successful careers and encourage their children to carry on the Rider legacy.
Much of the opposition to the proposed changes to the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences core focused on the potential additional expenses that may arise, including the addition of faculty. While the changes to the core hold some valuable potential for growth, it may be wise to hold off educational renovations until after Rider recovers from the expenses that came with its physical makeover.
When it comes to the financial status of Rider, the administration must look at a long-term picture of the future. By creating an atmosphere that puts satisfied graduates first, Rider will surely move toward financial stability.
The weekly editorial expresses the
majority opinion of The Rider News.
This week’s editorial was written by Copy Editor Sarah Bergen
Printed in the 2/19/14 edition