Having served 12 years as Rider’s president, Mordechai Rozanski will retire on July 31, 2015.
After making the announcement on Jan. 29, he reminisced in an email about the accomplishments and hurdles he experienced while at Rider.
“Serving as Rider’s sixth president has been the most fulfilling experience of my academic career,” Rozanski said. “I am profoundly proud of the strategic initiatives we have undertaken and the achievements we have attained together. In this I have been privileged to work with an exceptional community of dedicated trustees, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and students. Through our shared efforts, we have made significant contributions to Rider’s institutional progress, both advancing the university’s strengths and confronting its challenges.”
As Rozanski faces his final year at Rider, and the process of finding a new president begins, he has faith in the university’s continued growth and success.
“Rider deserves new leadership to work with the board of trustees and the university community to shape a new and compelling vision for Rider’s future,” Rozanski said. “In the meantime, I look forward to continuing our work together as we complete the important tasks still remaining and ensure a smooth leadership transition.
“I have every confidence that Rider will attract an outstanding new leader who will continue this important work.”
Under Rozanski’s tenure, much of Rider’s architecture has been updated, including renovations to Memorial Hall and the Bart Luedeke Center Theater, and improvements in athletics facilities. The Marion Buckelew Cullen Center on the Westminster Campus, North Hall, West Village and the Student Recreation Center, as well as the turf field and the tri-generation project, came under Rozanski’s term.
Rozanski’s other initiatives have won praise from the entire community.
“Dr. Rozanski has been a wonderful asset to Rider University,” Dean of Students Anthony Campbell said. “Since 2003 we’ve spent over $125 million on the infrastructure to improve our plant, which has made our campus more competitive, and given us the facilities we need to teach the kinds of curriculum that we teach, as well as be able to provide students in residence halls better living areas and better recreational activities.”
Faculty applaud the improvements that have occurred during Rozanski’s tenure.
“I’m sorry to see him go,” Dr. Joel Phillips, professor of composition and music theater, said. “I think he has put an excellent face on the institution during his tenure. He has a charismatic personality that has served us very well.”
“I think his greatest strength is that he recognized that you need to invest in a university to keep it vibrant — to make it an environment in which students and faculty want to spend their days,” Dr. Pamela Brown, chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism, said. “The contrast before he came and after is enormous.”
Helping to renew the look and feel of the campus is just one of many of Rozanski’s accomplishments, according to Campbell.
“Under his leadership we have grown our international programs, we have found the solution to the Westminster-Lawrenceville dilemma in terms of making it work,” Campbell said. “By creating the Westminster College of the Arts we were able to create a vibrant new college for the campus. And everybody can see that our Musical Theater Department has grown in leaps and bounds.”
International partnerships have grown with Sanda University in China, which offers a master of international business degree, and through an MBA partnership with the Centre d’Etudes Franco-Americain de Management in Lyon, France.
Rozanski has also worked to gain national recognition for Rider, not only for the College of Business Administration and the School of Education, but also for Rider’s environmental efforts.
“Currently Rider continues to be rated among the top 7% of green universities and colleges in the country,” said Kristine Brown, media relations director.
Rozanski emphasized his accomplishments with scholarships and graduates.
“My greatest personal points of pride are two: First, that over the last 10 years, we have been able to double to $54 million the amount of scholarship support we provide our students, and second, that I have had the privilege of shaking the hands of close to 13,000 students who have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree on our campuses,” Rozanski said. “Frankly, for me, for our faculty and for all members of our community, it’s always been about helping our students succeed. That is our proudest accomplishment.”
Although his tenure at Rider has been impressive, Rozanski and the university were faced with challenges.
“Our greatest challenge has been the impact of the economic downturn on our community,” Rozanski said. “In various ways, it has influenced affordability and enrollment for students, precipitated cuts in our government funding, and resulted in difficult budget adjustments for our institution. We have, of course, worked hard to mitigate some of the negative impacts by doubling student scholarship support since 2003, by persuading the government to restore TAG funding for students, and by working collaboratively to overcome difficult budget challenges.”
His presidency also had to work through the drinking death of a student on the Lawrenecville campus, which resulted in tighter alcohol policies; the heroin death of a WCC student; a norovirus outbreak; and the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.
Although Rozanski announced his retirement on Jan. 29, he still has a “to-do” list before he officially leaves.
Academically, he is committed to the development of new undergraduate and graduate programs. Last fall, the criminal justice major was launched as was the master of arts in business communication. This year the College of Business Administration is in the process of developing several new programs.
“From a fundraising perspective, my priorities are to increase scholarship support for our students and to make significant progress in our various facilities campaigns including the renovation of Alumni Gym at Lawrenceville and the Playhouse at Princeton,” Rozanski said. “We’ve worked hard to promote the importance of philanthropy with our donor base, which is comprised of trustees, alumni, parents, friends, our own faculty and staff as well as the corporate and foundation community.”
Progress in fundraising has been impressive, the university’s website says.
“In the 2013 fiscal year alone, Rider raised more than $14 million in cash from gifts, bequests and other means of philanthropic support, representing a 78% increase from the previous record high,” according to the website.
Lastly, Rozanski plans on focusing on an important historical milestone.
“Our 150th anniversary celebration will provide Rider a tremendous opportunity to celebrate our history together, and give me numerous opportunities to thank our faculty, students, staff, administrators and those in our external communities, especially our many dedicated alumni,” he said.
Son of two holocaust survivors, Rozanski was born in Lodz, Poland, and moved to several different countries while growing up. He received his B.A. in history from McGill University in Canada, then continued on to earn his Ph.D. in Chinese history and Chinese-American relations at the University of Pennsylvania.
Prior to Rider, he served as president of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, until 2003, where he “presided over two successful capital campaigns that exceeded $100 million and increased Guelph’s endowment by 300%,” the Rider website said.
Rozanski has served on numerous boards, for such organizations as The Hun School of Princeton, The Princeton Health Care System, the Mid-Jersey Chamber of Commerce, The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey, the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks and the New Jersey Presidents’ Council.
Retirement and Beyond
During retirement, Rozanski and his wife, Bonnie, plan on moving to Philadelphia, the city where they met. He looks forward to travel, recreation and time with their son and grandchildren.
Many have seen a big difference in Rider during Rozanski’s presidency, through the good and the bad.
“He will be remembered as a leader that took us forward into the new century and a leader that had vision to help us adapt to the changing technologies,” Campbell said.