Rider University trustees renew president’s contract through 2022

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Rider University President Gregory Dell’Omo has been reappointed to a second term in the university’s top administrative post through July 31, 2022, according to Rider University officials.

Dell’Omo took over the reins at Rider on Aug. 1, 2015. He succeeded Mordechai Rozanski, who held the post from 2003-15. During Rozanski’s tenure, enrollment increased and a new dormitory and a new Student Recreation Center were built.

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The decision to renew Dell’Omo’s contract was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees, board Chairman Robert S. Schimek said, adding that “it reaffirms our steadfast belief in President Dell’Omo’s leadership of our university.”

Schimek praised Dell’Omo for setting and achieving several goals – from developing and adopting the university’s new strategic plan, dubbed “Our Path Forward,” to launching a capital fundraising campaign and creating a new “Engaged Learning Program” for students.

Dell’Omo said he is looking forward to continuing to work with the Rider community to carry out the strategic plan, which includes “further developing the high quality academic and university reputation.”

The strategic plan includes “continued enhancement and investment in our program offerings – current and new, campus facilities, fundraising success and student affordability,” he said.

The strategic plan calls for increasing the number of minority employees, exploring the possibility of providing on-site childcare for employees, reducing costs and eliminating the deficit by 2022.

On the academic side, “Our Path Forward” seeks to increase enrollment from the 3,743 students who were enrolled in September 2016 to 4,181 by September 2021. It also seeks to improve the freshman retention rate from 78 percent during the 2016-17 school year to 85 percent by the 2021-22 school year.

“Our Path Forward” also includes renovations and expansions to classroom buildings and dormitories, and the common areas in the buildings. The overall goal is to raise the university’s profile, thus attracting more students.

The university’s “Engaged Learning Program” promotes combining a student’s academic interests with personal interests and career goals, through internships, fieldwork, holding an office in a campus club or organization, or volunteering to perform community service. A student earns points on his or her Engaged Learning transcript, separate from the academic transcript, for doing so.

Dell’Omo has also presided over a plan to sell the Westminster Choir College campus in Princeton for $40 million to a Chinese company, Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Co. Ltd., that has limited experience running a college. Westminster Choir College merged with Rider in 1992.

The proposed sale to the Chinese company has become mired in lawsuits filed by alumni and donors, including one lawsuit that claims the sale would violate the terms of the 1992 merger between the two institutions.

A second lawsuit, filed by the Princeton Theological Seminary, claims the sale would not comply with a trust established by donor Sophia Strong Taylor. She gave the land for the Westminster Choir College campus in the 1930s. The trust stipulates the land would go to the seminary if the choir college ceased operations.

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