Tensions rise after faculty and staff summoned – The Rider News
By Amethyst Martinez and Kaitlyn McCormick
Rider’s annual faculty and staff convocation, an event that largely focused on the financial improvements Rider has made over the past year, ended with a heated Q&A segment.
Dressed in cranberry shirts that read “Invest in Rider’s future, invest in Rider’s faculty,” the AAUP mingled in the Sept. 1 convocation at the Yvonne Theater as President Gregory Dell’Omo occupied center stage in explaining a wide variety of college-related topics, including admission rates, annual budgets, and updates on the impending cash shortfall impacting finances of Rider.
After the presentation, Barry Janes, AAUP member and film and television professor, took the microphone as the floor was open to questions.
Janes mentioned that one thing that bothers him is the amount of sacrifice members of the university are asked to make.
“We made huge cuts. I don’t even know who works here anymore. … I really wonder what kind of changes are being made at the cabinet level.
He also expressed concern about the attempted sale and litigation surrounding the Princeton campus of Westminster Choir College.
Janes’ questioning drew a lot of applause from AAUP faculty.
Dell’Omo’s response included mentioning that the university was losing $2-3 million a year to Westminster and that ongoing legal issues surrounding the sale of the campus are what’s keeping him from talking about and discussing it. take this into account in current tax conversations.
Dell’Omo reiterated that 90 positions were lost as a result of last semester’s voluntary separation program, which drew applause from many non-AAUP members.
In an interview with Rider News, Janes revealed that he and Dell’Omo met privately to expand on the conversation started during the Q&A forum.
The first topic Dell’Omo covered in his presentation was fall enrollment and financial updates. The freshman class is larger this year at 823 students, compared to last year at 677. The number of transfers has remained stable, but returning students are below last year’s mark, according to Dell’Omo. The university has continually tried to increase enrollment in hopes of generating more revenue. He also said the university is nowhere near full capacity of students living on campus.
One of the most important topics of the president’s speech was the new delisting policy, which Dell’Omo called a “call for change.” 459 students were unenrolled from classes for the fall 2022 semester, primarily due to financial issues.
“Essentially, although we’ve always had good intentions in looking out for the best interests of students, trying to be nice to them, helping them through financially difficult situations, at the end of the day, we don’t hold them back,” Dell’Omo said.
According to Dell’Omo, more than half of the students who were unenrolled fulfilled their re-enrollment obligations.
University Finance Update
Dell’Omo also referred to the $16.6 million shortfall the school faced last year. The 2023 budget for the deficit is $10.7 million.
Inflation has had its effects on campus this year in all sectors, more specifically catering, and should affect the budget.
In light of the financial problems, Dell’Omo outlined the institutional transformation plan. The university hopes to bolster its non-tuition revenue by utilizing the Westminster Conservatory, energy-saving initiatives, entrepreneurial efforts, camps and conferences, and consumer banking partnerships, among others.
The campaign’s success in 2022 was also mentioned, with just over $15 million raised in cash, which Dell’Omo touted as the highest total in a single year.
Rider’s Day of Giving, a 24-hour fundraising campaign, raised over $100,000 from 651 donors, and the Raise Your Game Challenge, another fundraising event, raised over $340,000 from of nearly 1,500 donors.
Dell’Omo ended her speech with a preview of the 2026 fiscal year, hoping a slew of initiatives will be added to Rider’s repertoire by then, including women’s lacrosse and new academic programs.
Educational consultant Jackie Incollingo was not involved in editing this story due to a conflict of interest.