Going out with a bang

By Alexis Schulz

When Rider College was commemorating its 18th anniversary in 1883, Andrew J. Rider spoke of what lay ahead for the institution.

“The future is full of promise,” he said.

Now winding up a celebration of its 150th anniversary, Rider reflected on the fulfillment of that promise, with special recognition to its sixth president, Dr. Mordechai Rozanski, at the Sesquicentennial Gala on April 18 in the Cavalla Room.

Faculty members, distinguished guests and recipients of sesquicentennial medals gathered to commemorate past years and Rozanski’s legacy through dinner and special entertainment by the Westminster Choir.

The gala highlighted Rider’s 150th celebration following University Day festivities that included the burying of a time capsule, fireworks, inflatable games and Rozanski’s student meet-and-greet.

Jonathan Meer, vice president for university advancement, explained that a scholarship in Rozanski’s honor has exceeded its goal.

“The scholarship fund honoring our sixth president is nearing its goal thanks to our many generous donors — many of whom are in this room tonight,” he said. “The total amount of scholarship gifts made just this year in Mort’s honor, in cash and pledges, now totals $4,915,000. With only a few more months in our fiscal year, I am confident we will hit that $5 million mark and give our students a substantial benefit on behalf of our president.”

Sesquicentennial medal recipients were also honored at the gala, with two medals given out at the event. Rozanski awarded one of the medals to Michael Kennedy, director of the board of trustees.

“He said to me, ‘How can we make one and one equal three?’” said Rozanski. “That was a particularly curious addition, but in the end he did make Rider greater than its equal parts. Mike, your dedication to Rider University far exceeds the ordinary, and you have made Rider a better place. I consider you a close friend and trusted adviser whose guidance I have valued since the day I came here.”

Westminster was also a prominent component at the gala, as nine years ago a committee of trustees was “wrestling with the difficult task of deciding the future of Westminster Choir College,” according to Mickey Gast, ’68, vice chair of the board and co-chair of Rider’s Sesquicentennial Executive Committee.

The college was in financial distress, and through close cooperation with Dean Robert Annis, Rozanski worked out the creation of Westminster College of the Arts.

“Mort, thanks to you, Westminster has never been stronger. So, a couple friends and I would like to thank you in the only way musicians can — in song,” said Gast. “Mort, you have built upon a great foundation and have been a true champion at Westminster. With you at our side, the Westminster family and I have never felt alone.”

Rozanski was then awarded a sesquicentennial medal. He concluded with speaking of his coming retirement on July 31. He will be 69.

“As I reflect on my impending retirement, I am persuaded that saying goodbye to a career to which I have devoted long years, and conducted with a passion for its joys, good works and people, was like the end of a great love affair,” he said. “While for some it may create a heartsick void, because of the loss of close relationships and focused purposes, it has not done so for me. The reason is that I know that my friendships will continue uninterrupted.

“I am comforted by the fact that I will continue to find great satisfaction in knowing that I have done my best on behalf of a noble endeavor. And I can sincerely state tonight that this sentiment applies to my 12 years as Rider University president, because they have been some of the best years of my academic career. As I said before, I’d rather be here than anywhere else.”

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