As James Sutphin Chamberlin and William Cogswell Whitney gazed upon the opening of the Trenton Business College in 1865, no storm clouds loomed. Now, for President Gregory Dell’Omo, the university is facing a much different atmosphere.
The word deficit has spurted from the lips of almost every student, staff and faculty member since the middle of the fall semester. Proposed program and faculty cuts shook the Rider community to pieces and left many looking for a sigh of relief. Still, months after a deal was negotiated, some community members, in disappointment, plan not to attend one of the most important ceremonies in a university president’s life, the inauguration.
On April 8, Dell’Omo will officially embark on his journey as Rider’s seventh president and describe his vision for what he believes should be the priorities in the coming years. As students, we would like to offer some points on what we envision could benefit our community and make the university thrive in future years.
Preparing for Careers
Obviously, Rider needs to offer programs that attract students and prepare them for their futures. This means getting more programs in the works that are in line with what the job market is looking for right now.
In his town hall in February, Dell’Omo listed new programs in Sport Management, Healthcare Management, Allied Health Studies, Organizational Psychology, Health Sciences, Homeland Security, Technical Theater and Sports Media, which are underway or expected to be launched in 2016-17. He also mentioned proposed programs in Healthcare Policy, Creative Arts Therapy and Healthcare Communication. All these programs are a great start. But to become an even more robust university, we need to consider adding such realms as engineering, computer science and nursing. Programs like those are in the 10 most popular college majors, according to The Princeton Review. They could bring many students to the university.
An increase in enrollment through new program offerings could reduce that very deficit that put us on such a rocky path last fall. A catalog sprinkled with new, interesting undergraduate and graduate opportunities could increase student diversity, attracting to Rider engaged students open to different disciplines.
Enhancing Campus Facilities
To a prospective student, the campus façade is highly important. You want to feel you belong at a university not only through the people you meet but also because of the sights you see. This is where facilities renovation is key to bringing in more students. In the summer, it is planned that Sweigart Auditiorium, the Science building and Moore Library will undergo refurbishment. The Campus Mall and Bart Luedeke Center Bookstore will also get spruceups. Three residential houses will receive boiler replacements. Gee Hall will start a yearlong renovation.
Most of the dorms need updating, especially to fix the tendency to overheat year-round. We also need cosmetic work to hide chips in the paint and replace outlets that don’t work in our academic buildings’ hallways.
As prospective students walk by on tours and see some of our sub-par dorms, they might grimace. In that case, what they don’t see, beyond our cracks, are the fantastic faculty and courses we have to offer. They don’t see the amazing experiences they will have. Let’s fix the facilities issues and move past them.
Fostering a Community-based Culture
The university should pride itself on giving back to the community and sharing its deep-rooted connections with Lawrenceville, Princeton and Trenton. A top priority for the president should be to strengthen relations. Rider’s economic vitality, as well as our social and cultural attributes, are already benefits, but they’re almost invisible to people off campus.
The university should find more ways to mutually benefit from partnering with state and local agencies in different projects. We should also encourage alumni involved within their own communities to help spread the word about Rider and what an impact it has made on their lives.
Vice presidents, deans and other administrators should come out of their offices every day and see what is happening on the campuses. It would reinvigorate attitudes and lighten spirits. If the people who run this university would cast their smiling faces in every corner of Rider, the institution would have a better atmosphere.
As the president stands before the community and pronounces his vision for the university, he should keep some key aspects in mind. The financial shortfall that the university has seen, and the reactions that the cutback announcements the president evoked, need to be mended before he can proceed. Meanwhile, the community needs to be reminded that the university can still implement unique projects such as the new hedges in front of Moore Library. To us, despite our kidding around on page 1, that beautification effort represents fresh growth as well as photo ops for all. Can you dig it?
Inaugurating only the seventh president in 150 years marks a momentous occasion, one that should be celebrated with Rider pride.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Managing Editor, Alexis Schulz.
Printed in the 04/06/16 issue.