AAUP leaders want board to remove Dell’Omo – The Rider News

By Sarah Siock and Shaun Chornobroff

Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Teachers (AAUP) has initiated the process to ask the board to remove President Gregory Dell’Omo from his position by presenting a motion of no confidence to union members during of a meeting on February 1.

The AAUP executive committee sent an anonymous survey to its members asking if they support a call for the board to remove Dell’Omo.

The motion’s resolution blames Dell’Omo for Rider’s projected $20 million cash shortfall, saying his strategic policies “have led to a weakening of the university’s financial position.” The resolution also cites declining college enrollment, failure to improve student retention, and mounting debt under Dell’Omo’s leadership.

“At some point you have to say ‘we need new leadership,'” said AAUP grievance director and sociology professor Jeffrey Halpern, pointing to the growing deterioration in the university’s financial situation. , among other complaints.

In 2017, less than two years into his tenure, the AAUP passed a no-confidence vote against Dell’Omo after cutting college programs and attempting to fire tenured professors. The vote was the first in Rider history, but it did not ask the board to remove Dell’Omo.

In an interview after the Feb. 1 meeting, Halpern said, “There were strong feelings on both sides” in 2017 about the vote of no confidence. At the most recent meeting, which Halpern estimates had 90 attendees, he said no AAUP member had raised concerns about the motion. Halpern, who has been at the university for four decades, said he expects the motion to be “overwhelmingly approved.”

In a statement to The Rider News on January 31, Dell’Omo said, “As a leader, anytime you have to make tough organizational decisions during tough times, it comes with the territory that you’re going to receive some opposition. . When making these decisions, it is important to focus on efforts to address the challenges faced and to work towards building a stronger future for the institution, while being as sensitive as possible to the impact of these efforts on individual stakeholders. This is the commitment that my leadership team and I, along with the Board of Directors, have to guide our institution forward. We don’t expect everyone to agree with, let alone all of these efforts, but hopefully the reasoning behind them is understood and we can work together as a community for a successful and thriving Rider university.

The motion also comes after the university administration announced a voluntary severance program for non-academic employees to reduce salary and benefits expenses, with a warning that layoffs were possible if savings goals were not met.

“Before President Dell’Omo cuts staff whose work supports the institution’s educational mission, provides student services, maintains physical facilities, and provides campus security, he should take responsibility for the deficit and step down. “, said the president of the AAUP and political science. Professor Barbara Franz in an interview with The Rider News on January 27.

Liz O’Hara, president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and a computer science major, acknowledged the complexity of the situation and the confusion it can cause for students.

O’Hara said, “The Student Government Association recognizes the right of faculty members to express their views through their statements regarding the removal of the president, but recognizes that the final decision rests with the board of directors. ‘administration. The SGA takes no position on the statement calling for the dismissal of President Dell’Omo. We hope that more information will be made public on our campus by AAUP and that all stakeholders will have the opportunity to respond. We understand the complex nature of the problem at hand and will continue to advocate for an outcome that positively impacts the student body, as well as the long-standing health of the university for future generations of students.

Another factor in the AAUP’s decision to file this petition relates to Rider’s inability to sell its Princeton campus, formerly used by Westminster Choir College (WCC). Rider moved WCC students to the Lawrenceville campus in 2020, but the Princeton campus is currently not marketed for sale as alumni and students battle the Choir University’s move before the courts.

“The botched sale of the Westminster Choir College campus cost Rider millions, including lawsuits. The same time [Dell’Omo] continued to compensate himself and his inner circle of vice presidents very generously,” Franz said.

The university’s most recent copy of IRS 990, which spans July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, showed Dell’Omo’s salary to be $532,400 and $87,712 in additional benefits, nearly $55,000 more than the previous year. Eight directors also earned a base salary of over $200.00. In contrast, Rider’s faculty remained without any salary or cost-of-living increases from 2013 through the fall of 2021.

Faculty members have one week to respond to the survey, several members of the union’s executive committee confirmed.

Earnest L. Veasey