James Castagnera retires after 23 years at Rider

By Tatyanna Carman

After working 23 years and commuting from an hour away, Associate Provost and Legal Counsel for Academic Affairs James Castagnera will retire from his position at Rider on Jun. 30.

Following his doctorate, juris doctorate and work at Case Western Reserve University, Castagnera started at Rider in 1996 and even taught a few classes, as he is an adjunct professor of legal studies at Rider. He said that he decided to retire in October. 

“I’m saying this from the bottom of my heart: I never got up on a Monday morning and thought ‘oh geez. I have to go back to Rider, I have to go to work.’ You know, I’ve always enjoyed coming here. I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve worked with,” Castagnera said. 

Castagnera had many different responsibilities throughout the years, outside of his primary position. He was involved in research integrity, student and faculty visas, writing proposals to new academic programs and conducted Title IX sexual assault investigations, just to name a few. 

“Jim’s impact on Rider is immeasurable. He has been a valued faculty member, teaching in multiple College of Liberal Arts and Sciences programs, a leader in academic affairs and a key contributor to many campus initiatives, including faculty mentoring, which has been a passion of his for some time,” said Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Jonathan Millen. 

He has also written many books varied in subject matter. Some of his books include, “Handbook for Student Law for Higher Education Administrators,” “Al Qaeda Goes to College: Impact of the War on Terror on American Higher Education” and “Civil Liberties and National Security.” 

“Jim is an outstanding lawyer, author and legal scholar who has guided Rider through many contract negotiations and helped students with difficult legal issues, from everyday visa applications to truly bizarre incidents, such as the moment when a student who had smoked too much weed crashed a car through the first floor of Fine Arts into a classroom,” said chair and professor of english Jack Sullivan. 

After leaving Rider, Castagnera plans on continuing his freelance writing with his daughter. He said he always wanted to be a full-time freelancer, but “never had the guts to do it.” 

“Having been here for 23 years, I’m asked by many young faculty and staff what I think of Rider’s future. I tell them, first of all, that they are in a unique position to impact that future.  My generation, by and large, is leaving Rider; just this year about 25 faculty are retiring.  We have hired  almost an equal number of new faculty,” he said. “Only once every three or four decades does a new generation have such an opportunity to impact the future of a university. Second, I tell them that in an era of campus consolidations and closings, I believe Rider is well positioned to be one of the survivors and they can help ensure that’s true. This is an exciting and challenging time to be starting a career in higher education. I envy them for that.”

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