By James Shepherd
Rider’s Lawrenceville campus was the second to host President Gregory Dell’Omo’s public forum about the university’s strategic planning process. The meeting was largely attended by staff and students, offering their opinions on how to change and further edit the material shown.
The attendance on the Lawrenceville campus exceeded that of the forum on the Westminster campus. Where the latter attracted around 25 people, the event at Lawrenceville hosted a mixture of over 100 students, staff and faculty, said Dell’Omo.
Dell’Omo used the platform to notify and educate Rider’s campus about changes coming to the university’s strategic themes and mission statement.
Currently, Dell’Omo said, the strategic planning process is being led by a mixture of the board of trustees; a steering committee comprised of Rider’s cabinet; deans; the chairs of the working committees; at-large trustees; faculty; students; and an external representative. This conglomeration of people is formally known as the Strategic Planning Steering Committee.
There are also six working groups, each one working toward improving one section of Rider, said Dell’Omo. They are: Academic Excellence and Engaged Learning; Student Enrollment, Experience and Outcomes; Institutional Reputation and Branding; Financial Resources; Facilities and Infrastructure; and Employee Engagement and Enrichment.
“The Steering Committee is the group that’s overseeing the entire process, and the working groups act as the working teams within the specifics of those areas,” said Dell’Omo. “They’ll filter their work up to the Steering Committee, and the Steering Committee is
responsible for bringing it all together, for getting feedback from the university community and really beginning working on putting together a final product.”
The hopes of the strategic planning teams, President Dell’Omo said, are to have most, if not every, detail finalized by February, when all the proposed changes will go under the examination of the board of trustees. They will either approve the changes or not.
“Our dreams and aspirations always far exceed our resources,” said Dell’Omo.
“If you just have this elaborate strategic plan, but have no way to fund it, then it just becomes a fantasy. We want the plan to be inspirational and we want it to be challenging. It’s got to push us, but it needs to tie back to our resources.”
There were many mixed opinions in the room as Dell’Omo opened the floor for questions and comments about the proposed changes to Rider’s strategic themes and mission statement. Both staff and students expressed concerns and provided comments to further improve the materials provided and the future of the school in general.
Junior political science major Kenneth Dillon, president of the Rider Students’ Union, or RSU, said, “The language President Dell’Omo used to illustrate his plan for Rider sounded positive. While excitedly speaking about the supposed benefits of his strategic plan, he said that the university will have to reallocate existing money toward it through (among other methods) prioritization which is a soft way of saying that at some point we’ll see departments closed out. I heard nothing that reassures students that our majors, minors and graduate programs are safe.”
These proposed changes can be found by students, faculty and staff on the announcements page of myRider and via Canvas. Input is highly welcomed from students and staff alike, according to Dell’Omo.