By Evan Cornell
In celebration of Rider’s 150th anniversary, this year’s University Day will light up the Lawrenceville campus on April 17 — literally, with fireworks at 9:30 p.m. First, however, to kick off the celebration, Dean Emeritus Dr. Walt A. Brower, ’48, will introduce his second volume of Rider University’s history, Keeping the Promise: The Story of Rider University 1994 to 2012.
Brower published his first book, Full of Promise: The Story of Rider College 1865-1994, in 1997. Both volumes capture the rich, local history of Rider, as well as Brower’s own love for the university. After graduating from Rider as an undergraduate in 1948, Brower returned as a Rider faculty member for 45 years and dean of the School of Education for 21 of them. After retirement, he continued on as an adjunct professor, spending more than six decades at his alma mater. Brower is clearly Rider’s unofficial historian for a reason.
Brower’s first book is about Andrew J. Rider’s statement made in 1883 at graduation: “The future is full of promise.” His new book is about keeping that promise and ensuring that academic excellence continues at Rider. Brower feels that Rider has kept that commitment.
“After everything that I’ve seen take place here, I can say that Rider continues to make tremendous strides and carry on that promise,” he said.
The second volume maintains that purpose. “I want those who read it to know about the tremendous advances that Rider has made in this period,” he said. “Since Dr. Mordechai Rozanski became president in 2003, he has built upon the many successes that preceeded him and has brought about many of his own successes.”
Rozanski also paid compliments to Brower.
“Dr. Brower writes about our University from the deep well of his experiences as an alumnus, faculty member and long-standing dean of the University’s School of Education,” said Rozanski. “He also brings the clear eye and keen observations that are so essential to charting Rider’s great history. I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Brower for his friendship and his clear dedication to telling and preserving our rich institutional history.”
Rozanski has succeeded in focusing on the students, Brower said, something that Rider takes pride in.
“Rider is a student-centered institution — we have continued to support this idea since the very beginning of Rozanski’s presidency. He has made continuous reference to the fact that we are doing it for the students. When you have that type of philosophy under a university, that is great.”
Brower stressed that each and every member of the Rider family has played a role in the university’s success.
“Rider has been fortunate enough to have very confident, talented faculty,” said Brower. “The administrators that I have seen and worked under made a special effort to acquire the staff we have today.”
The university has had six presidents, and Brower has worked under four of them. As Rider prepares for a new president, Brower is anticipating what Dr. Gregory G. Dell’Omo has in store for the university.
“He appears to be a very fine catch,” said Brower. “I’m very delighted with what I hear and what I know about him. He will be able to pick right up and take us to another level of excellence after where Dr. Rozanski has left off.”
As Rider’s history continues to unfold, Brower will be there every step of the way. He will host a discussion of his second book on April 17 in Sweigart Auditorium at 1:30 p.m. A book signing will follow, and light refreshments will be served.
“This day is very special to me. This book is a gift to this fine university and everyone who is in it. I look forward to it,” said Brower.