By Tatyanna Carman
Rider was on the list for “The Best 386 Colleges: 2021 Edition,” and named one of the best northeastern colleges by The Princeton Review.
According to The Princeton Review website, it surveyed 143,000 students across the nation.
“I am extremely pleased and proud that Rider is included among the best 386 colleges. This publication highlights only 13% of four-year colleges in the country and inclusion is based upon the strength of our outstanding academic programs,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs DonnaJean Fredeen.
Fredeen also explained what the factors she thought contributed to Rider being on the best colleges list.
“Given that inclusion in this book is based upon the authors’ opinion of the quality of our academic programs, I believe that a few of the factors that contributed to our inclusion are the high-quality, engaging classes offered by our faculty, the fact that our faculty are accessible to students outside the classroom, our ability to connect the learning that occurs in the classroom to the world outside the classroom through our Engaged Learning program, the academic support available to our students through the Academic Success Center, and the outcomes of a Rider education.”
Fredeen also said that Rider’s inclusion in the book is “yet another opportunity for individuals to learn about the quality of a Rider education.”
Senior communication studies major Regina Askew-Jones said that she was quite surprised that Rider was named as one of the best colleges and that she does not think Rider is horrible, but in comparison to other colleges, it is not a “shining star.”
“Rider could’ve been listed as such because of their academic programs like business, accounting and education,” Askew-Jones said. “The community aspect has been a major part of what I love most about Rider.”
Senior criminal justice and sociology double major Destiny Waters said that she agrees with Rider being named one of the best colleges by The Princeton Review “to a certain extent,” because there is “always room for improvement.”
“I do believe Rider is well rounded and very intentional when picking professors because, from personal experience, I have not had a professor where I felt uncomfortable [or] that I couldn’t ask them a question,” she said. “I like Rider because it has a ton of programs that can help your professional development, programs such as the Leadership Development Program, Bonner Scholars and more.”
Waters said that Rider could improve on the lack of employment of faculty of color, the lack of diversity in orientation leader jobs and “the price of Rider.”
Associate Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown said that “steady progress” has been made toward the diversity of employees and faculty. She highlighted that 20% of the full-time faculty at Rider are from underrepresented groups and 19% of the entire workforce at Rider are from underrepresented groups.
“In 2019, the percentage of minorities increased 1.02% for a total of 18.66% and females increased .55% for a total of 57.99%,” Brown explained. “Over the past 10 years, our minority workforce has increased 5.52% and our female workforce has increased 2.94%.”
She also clarified that there are many initiatives that have been “established to seek a diverse applicant pool for open positions,” which include, “efforts to identify job sites serving underrepresented populations,” and “recruitment guides developed to assure open and inclusive search processes.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Leanna Fenneberg responded to the concern of a lack of diversity in orientation leader jobs.
“Student Affairs is committed to continuing to improve our selection processes to assure diverse representation and engagement, and have a specific goal this year to develop resources and tools for recruitment and selection to support our various searches.”
The new “Lifting Barriers” initiative will reduce the base undergraduate tuition from $45,120 to $35,000, according to the Rider University press release, but will not affect net price for students.
Askew-Jones said that Rider could improve its student relations and “help improve in areas we have been vocal about for years like dining, dorms, bathrooms in academic buildings like Fine Arts.”
When asked if the university has plans for more investments in residence halls, Fenneberg clarified that within the past four years, “Rider has invested nearly $20 million in residence hall improvements, spanning seven buildings.”
“Our campus master plan includes continuous investment in our residential facilities, but we do not have a schedule for the immediate next steps at this time,” Fenneberg said.
One of the residence halls is Lincoln Hall, which “completed a full renovation,” this summer, according to Fenneberg.
Vice President for Facilities and University Operations Michael Reca explained that complaints about dining services have been steadily declining over the past year and that some of the concerns made in the last academic year, “were tied to the staggered opening of new facilities at Cranberry’s.”
“Since then, dining services increased operational efficiencies, staff training and made menu modifications to decrease the wait times…,” he said. “As of August 2020, students are able to make reservations to dine-in at the dining hall and place mobile orders via Grubhub for delivery of food from on campus eateries. In addition, the new venues on campus such as Jersey Mike’s and Wendy’s have been well received and provided broader options for students, faculty and staff. Dining Services continues to keep open lines of communication with students to obtain feedback and increase customer satisfaction.”
Reca also said that bathrooms and common areas are incorporated into projects as the university continues to make investments in the academic buildings.
“We continuously evaluate the building needs as a whole, and address issues in [a] deliberate manner based on the funding available,” said Reca.
Askew-Jones noticed the improvements to housing and dining facilities but was aware of the fact that she will not be able to enjoy the changes.
“However, I have to say they have been continuously upgrading but unfortunately, I will not be able to reap the benefits,” Askew-Jones said.