By Rob Leitner
This past June, Rider University earned a spot on the 2016-17 Colleges of Distinction list. According to collegesofdistinction.com, the organization seeks to evaluate which colleges are the best place to “learn, grow and succeed.”
With the goal of encouraging learning in and out of the classroom, and providing numerous opportunities for students to get involved on campus, Rider has earned a spot on the list.
“I was excited to learn that Rider had been named a College of Distinction,” said Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown. “At Rider, we are committed to helping our students develop as a whole person, and this recognition firmly illustrates our commitment to that.”
The College of Distinction examines four categories when compiling each year’s lists: review of the institutions’ freshman experience, the general education program, strategic plan and satisfaction measures.
“To be considered a College of Distinction, an institution must demonstrate a commitment to engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes,” said President Gregory Dell’Omo. “These four elements align seamlessly with Rider’s goals and objectives, as they are also the cornerstones of our approach to higher education.”
Engaged students often play an active role in their learning experience. These experiences include study abroad programs, internships and community projects. According to Rider’s website, Rider students complete over 1,000 internships, co-ops and field placements a year.
Brown explained that extracurricular activities help students meet new people and experience all that Rider has to offer.
“At Rider, there are countless ways for students to become engaged on our campuses,” she said. “We have dozens of clubs, intramural sports, Greek organizations, volunteer opportunities, multicultural organizations, arts programming and academic groups that allow students to participate in the activities they enjoy most.”
Great teaching, by College of Distinction standards, is characterized by interactions between teachers and students. A majority of Rider’s full-time faculty hold a doctorate or the highest degree in their field, and the student to faculty ratio is 12:1, according to Brown.
“From my 35 years of teaching, I would say smaller classes have the following benefits,” said Dr. Barry Truchil of Rider’s sociology department. “First, you know who everybody is a lot sooner. Second, with a smaller class, you can call on people and get a better sense of where everybody is at. You can get to know them in more depth, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, because small numbers allow for more participation from each person.”
Rider is committed to creating a vibrant community for students to learn, live and enjoy, said Brown. This semester alone is full of events and activities.
“A few weeks ago, we held Cranberry Fest on a weekend, which drew hundreds of students for an evening of food, music and fun activities,” she said. “Next month, we’re looking forward to Scream Screen, the university’s first-ever drive-in movie being planned by 107.7 The Bronc. The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics is bringing several legislators and other guests to speak on campus this semester, not to mention our fall concert with Travis Scott, Midnight MAACness, the R Factor Finale, and several concerts and plays which are all taking place in the next several weeks.”
In terms of successful outcomes, a survey taken from 2015 Rider graduates showed that 92 percent of them are employed, pursuing graduate studies or volunteering within a year of graduating. Out of current Rider Alumni, there are 262 alumni in positions such as president, CEO or leader of national or international corporations or organizations.
Dell’Omo supports students with the opportunities they now have and expressed confidence in Rider’s newly graduated students entering the work force.
“I firmly believe in the importance of providing students with the ability to grow and develop holistically during their collegiate years,” he said. “We will continue to fulfill this distinction by providing students with opportunities to earn college credit and valuable life experience while participating in study abroad programs, service learning opportunities, internships and professional experiences, leadership opportunities and participation in the arts.
“This holistic approach dovetails with our mission to also provide the highest quality academic experience possible. These two approaches will fully prepare our students for successful lives and careers after graduation.”