Last Thursday I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. I went home and cried, the first time since the death of my parents. What happened? At a town hall meeting, President Dell’Omo told the audience he had to close a budget deficit. He projected a list of 14 programs on a screen, announced, without explanation, their elimination, and asked if there were any questions. That was it. He never met with the departments to explain his decision. He announced their elimination out of the blue.
I graduated from Rider in 1967, the first philosophy major. I received my Ph.D. in philosophy and came back to Rider to teach. For the past 40 years I’ve dedicated my professional life to building a robust, vibrant and excellent philosophy program, and in doing so, strengthening the academic life at Rider. Without warning, the president announced the eradication of my department.
Not only was this done in the most insensitive and distressing manner I can think of, it damages Rider. President Dell’Omo told students “these moves are being done to strengthen the university and strengthen the degrees that we have.” Yet, four years ago Rider hired an outside evaluator to assess the quality of our major. The evaluator concluded, “This is an outstanding philosophy department whose teaching, research, and curricular offerings are one of Rider’s centers of excellence.” Yet, President Dell’Omo thinks eliminating it strengthens Rider.
For the past 40 years, I’ve derived immeasurable value and satisfaction from my interactions with students and colleagues. I love my students and have consistently experienced their love for me. So, with sorrow, I am going to announce my retirement.
—Dr. Richard Burgh
Professor of Philosophy
Printed in the 11/11/15 issue.