By Professor Barbara Franz
Credo has descended upon Rider. Numerous students have been interviewed and many faculty have received invitations to attend Credo focus groups and other such events. Credo is a consulting group that was hired by the administration in order to help with the economic problems caused by six years of administrative mismanagement. Credo promises to “right-size” colleges. President Dell’Omo was so enamored with this Orwellian catchphrase that he used the term “right-sizing” in his Convocation speech in September. Regular folks call it downsizing.
Rider’s chapter of American Association of University Professors (AAUP) survey of Credo’s work (see AAUP’s website) found a very alarming pattern of deep cuts in programs and departments at Credo client universities. This ought to greatly disturb Rider students and faculty. Post-consulting, the vast majority of universities we looked at engaged in radical slashing of departments, and many made enormous reductions to core programs, plus laid off (tenured) faculty. Even the universities that ranked prominently in Credo’s promotional material engaged in deep cuts and closures of entire programs, such as political science, foreign languages, classics, performing arts, visual art and history, physics and athletic programs. Credo promises to focus on student experience, but its work has a dramatically negative impact on students.
Rider students should think about the greater impact these kinds of cuts could have on their personal lives and careers (assuming their programs are not eliminated before they graduate). If Rider follows Credo’s lead and eliminates core programs, we will move away from being a comprehensive university, and become solely focused on pre-professional programs and expensive certificate programs. Many Credo client-institutions have done this. This will weaken the quality of all our students’ education, hurt Rider’s reputation and diminish the value of your degrees.
Cooperation with Credo provides cover for Rider’s administration. Therefore, Rider’s AAUP strongly discourages you from cooperating with this effort by refusing to participate.
Our research shows that anything you say to Credo that reinforces their goals will be seized upon; anything that suggests a different path will simply be ignored.
I’ve read the books that Credo’s founders published. They are full of imprecise jargon and trendy corporate branding language, but Credo’s argument is very clear. They promote autocratic leadership with little to no true concern for student learning and growth. Credo’s vision of the “new university” is a sandbox for the administration to learn their craft as they go, without the need for shared governance with the faculty and with no fear of the consequences when their actions are harmful to the university, its employees and its students.
We need fewer alliterative catchphrases and myopic corporate outcomes; instead, we need more commitment to the substance of higher learning and academia that transforms students’ lives. We don’t need consulting companies paid by administrators who have run out of ideas—or buildings to sell—and who are disproportionately rewarded for a poorly done job by an oblivious Board of Trustees.
We ask you to abstain from speaking with Credo consultants and aiding in the demise of our university.
Barbara Franz, Professor of political science and President of Rider’s Chapter of the American Association of University Professors
Originally printed in the 10/06/21 issue.