Dell’Omo announces the latest innovation in cost reduction – The Rider News

By Sarah Siock and Shaun Chornobroff

In response to nearly two years of significant financial uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo announced a voluntary departure program for certain employees in an effort to reduce the projected cash shortfall. of $20 million from the university.

The program, which was announced on January 24, is the latest cost-cutting initiative put in place to solve Rider’s massive budget problems. A campus-wide communication said all non-union employees are eligible to participate in the program which aims to reduce salary and social expenses at the university. However, employees who volunteer to resign from their jobs at the university will be offered financial incentives that are not normally in place.

Why a voluntary separation?

In an interview with The Rider News on Jan. 27, Dell’Omo said the administration has long been discussing how the university can better align spending with revenue.

“It was an area where we felt we had to go in that direction. Nobody ever likes to do something like that. It’s not the ideal situation. But we felt that the voluntary departure plan was a way to give at least some employees an informed approach and a bit of choice in the process,” Dell’Omo said.

Benefits available to those who enroll in the Voluntary Departure Program include a lump sum payment equivalent to one week per year of service for a minimum of six weeks and a maximum of 26 weeks and payment for all accrued and unused vacation, up to authorized limits and any applicable personal time. While all non-union employees can request voluntary separation, Human Resources will ultimately determine who gets approved.

Dell’Omo said the pandemic-related drop in enrollment has compounded the university’s financial struggles. At the fall 2021 convocation, the president revealed that Rider’s total enrollment took a hit with 3,827 students enrolled, up from 4,218 students the previous academic year. Recent attempts to cut costs at the university include closing the College of Continuing Studies in 2020, eliminating staff positions and freezing the salaries of key administrators.

Filling the gap

Dell’Omo made it clear in an email sent to university employees on January 24 that the voluntary departure program is only the first step in his plan to reduce the university’s monstrous debt and that Involuntary reductions will follow unless “the voluntary departure program is sufficient to meet the university’s financial goals.

“Rider expects to realize significant cost savings from voluntary and involuntary reductions to its non-AAUP workforce this year. We will also consider open positions in the budget that will not be filled to help achieve these financial goals, as well as through the implementation of other cost reduction measures,” Dell’Omo said in its email. to the faculty.

In his interview with The Rider News, Dell’Omo said he hoped to wipe out Rider’s entire deficit.

“That’s our goal, whether we can accomplish it in a year is debatable,” Dell’Omo said honestly. “…When we talk about this $20 million shortfall that we’re trying to fix, it’s a combination of personnel cost savings, operating cost savings, not filling some positions that are currently open, and to restructure some of them. In this way, we can work in certain areas, as well as earn more than we had planned; in terms of enrollment, ancillary income, housing, and other things that we do. So it’s a combination of all of those things that we’re looking at to help reduce the share of that $20 million. »

President of Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Teachers (AAUP) and professor of political science, Barbara Franz, criticized the voluntary separation program and said the people involved are “crucial” to university departments .

Franz said: “Before cutting staff who work directly with students and provide student services, [Dell’Omo] should really cut this bloated administration.

Future changes

Looking to Rider’s future, Dell’Omo said he wanted to build the university’s endowment to help “protect” Rider from unforeseen financial obstacles.

“When you rely on student income as much as we do, you are subject to ups and downs in the number of available students. …If you have a strong endowment that allows you to earn interest from that endowment each year and fund a higher percentage of your operating budget, you’re not as reliant on student tuition,” Dell said. ‘Omo highlighting fundraising and endowment initiatives. scholarships that can help fund university operations in the future.

Among the catalysts for the many changes expected to hit the university shortly are the administrative and academic prioritization processes that began last fall. The administrative hierarchy is “a little ahead of the academic one”, according to Dell’Omo.

The university president said that by the end of February, he hopes to have the results of the administrative prioritization process. The administration also anticipates the results of the information for the academic prioritization at the end of March.

Dell’Omo and his firm have been the target of consistent skepticism from AAUP leadership for his partnership with university consulting firm Credo, which helps the university with its prioritization processes. Dell’Omo assured that any final decision based on the consulting firm’s recommendations will be made by the administration and affirmed its confidence in the decision to partner with Credo.

“They just provide a kind of set of eyes and experiences and ideas that we look at,” Dell’Omo said. “So they don’t really provide decision-making, they don’t make tough decisions. It will be the management, the administration that will go through this process.

In the eyes of Dell’Omo and his firm, the voluntary and involuntary separation programs, as well as the prioritization programs that go along with the Credo partnership, have one goal: to contribute to the future of Rider University.

“We want to continue to make Rider as attractive to more students and more teachers who want to come and work here and other people who want to come here,” Dell’Omo said. “We need to continue to identify areas of investment that will allow you to continue to grow and be more successful. And so it’s sometimes taking a step back to take two steps forward in your approach to university. And it’s [what] we are trying to accomplish.

Earnest L. Veasey