Rider cuts assistants and saves full-timers in latest cuts – The Rider News

By Shaun Chornobroff

In the latest step on its planned trajectory to future financial stability, Rider’s administration has revealed to the school’s faculty union that it will not be reducing the number of full-time faculty this year, but will be laying off several. assistant teachers.

Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Teachers (AAUP) was alerted to the university’s decision on the afternoon of October 31, shortly before Provost DonnaJean Fredeen alerted the Rider community in a campus-wide email.

The decision came on the day of the layoff notice deadline agreed by the university and the union under a five-year contract announced on September 11.

While AAUP president David Dewberry estimated that “about six” union members had received notice of dismissal, in an interview with The Rider News on November 1, Fredeen explained that the actual number of assistants who will not be retained is still unknown.

“The only part-time professors who have received a layoff notice are those with seniority status. We have part-time teachers who don’t get rehired regularly,” Fredeen said. “They are hired based on whether or not we have classes for them to teach and that group of faculty may also be impacted.”

“We are aware of this and we are disappointed”

The union has the right to take any planned dismissal to an arbitration tribunal, which Dewberry told The Rider News by phone that he intended to do. In an arbitration tribunal, the two parties take their case to a judge, who then takes the side of either the university or the union.

“I reached out to all the people who were laid off and basically said, ‘We realize that, we’re disappointed, we’re disappointed that the administration chose to do this and we will fight these layoffs proposed’,” Dewberry said. “…We have already begun to deliberate as an executive committee, with members of our bargaining team who are not part of the executive committee, on how best to respond.”

In his university-wide communication, Fredeen explained that full-time faculty were shielded from layoffs due to the high number of employees requesting an early retirement incentive offered to AAUP members. by the university after the most recent contract.

As the university enters a period of transition, layoffs and early retirements were anticipated by Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo.

“Whenever you go through these kinds of changes, you will always be concerned about [change], especially if you start losing really talented people. You’re always balancing the loss of talent against the need to correct the size of the university,” Dell’Omo said in a Nov. 1 interview with The Rider News.

The layoffs announced on October 31 are the latest step in Rider’s academic prioritization process. In June, it was announced that the university was removing 25 programs from its academic catalog, covering a variety of different schools and majors, including courses offered by Westminster Choir College as well as the transfer of French and English majors. philosophy of the university towards minors.

The recent layoffs came in the 25 programs that are either being eliminated or archived by the school, and will take effect in the next school year.

“It’s not a judgment of the value of the discipline in terms of people learning throughout life in a very holistic education,” Fredeen said. “It’s a statement about the viability of these programs at Rider University. There are other institutions where these programs are extremely viable, they just aren’t viable here.

With controversy surrounding the administration in recent years, Dewberry sees the abundance of requests for early retirement as a sign of Rider’s waning reputation among its employees.

“The fact that a lot of people have retired is kind of proof that they don’t like working here,” Dewberry said. “When I got hired, it was considered a great job, it was a first choice or preferred place of employment. It was like, ‘Wow, you gotta jump over there, that’s a great place.’ It doesn’t become that anymore.

It’s time to cut

For Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo, although he said he was not happy with these decisions, they are necessary for an institution to recover financially from a debt that has already climbed by almost $20 million during the pandemic.

“This idea of ​​reassessing your resources and reallocating your resources has always been part of running any organization, whether for-profit or not,” Dell’Omo explained. “But higher education has always been add, add, add and very rarely cut, cut or reallocate, and those days are over.”

As the university continues to lick its financial wounds, the union, which has passed two votes of no confidence in Dell’Omo management since taking office in 2015, remains critical.

“The administration claims there are a lot of external factors that do this, but one can’t help but feel that an institution’s leadership should be held accountable,” Dewberry said. “It’s always discouraging for people to lose their jobs.”

As his administration continues to make cuts, Dell’Omo continues to uphold his sovereign goal of retaining a university that the Rider community, past and present, can be proud of for the long term.

“Even if sometimes we are criticized for being a little too business, or too cold, we try both to preserve the institution, but also all the stakeholders of the institution, such as the faculty, the staff, the students. and the alumni and everyone associated with the university,” Dell’Omo said. “We try to make them all feel like this is an institution that cares about the individual as much as the institution.”

Originally printed in the 11/2/22 issue.

Earnest L. Veasey