Disturbing events at Rider University in New Jersey. The liberal arts school–one with Division 1 NCAA basketball at the very least–is offering quite the education for $38,000.
Facing a potentially crippling budget crisis, Rider University will slash 13 majors and one minor and eliminate more than 20 jobs, including 14-full-time faculty members, the school announced today.
The unprecedented budget cuts at the private liberal arts college are expected to save more than $2 million a year as Rider tries to close its deficit, already at $7.6 million of this year’s $216 million budget, according to the university.
Current juniors and seniors will be able to complete degrees in their major, but sophomores and freshman will need to switch majors or transfer. In total, 272 students, including 123 sophomores and freshman are in the affected programs, university President Gregory Dell’Omo said.
Dell’Omo, who took office in August, announced the cuts Thursday during a town hall meeting with faculty and staff. Letters were also sent to students’ families, he said.
“This is a tough day,” Dell’Omo told NJ Advance Media after the town hall meeting. “But we would not have made this decision unless I really felt these were the right things for the university.”
The cuts were prompted by years of declining enrollment combined with rising costs for instruction, Dell’Omo said. But an official for the school’s faculty union said the faculty and the university have a difference of opinion over the severity of Rider’s financial challenges.
“Our first take on it was this is not necessary,” said Jeff Halpern, contract administrator and chief grievance officer for the faculty union. “A major restructuring without any conversations with the faculty is simply formula for disaster.”
Majors that will be eliminated beginning next fall are art and art history, advertising, American studies, business education, French, geosciences, German, marine science, philosophy, piano and web design. The bachelor of arts program in economics and the graduate program in organizational leadership will also be eliminated.
Three majors — business economics, entrepreneurial studies and sociology — will be offered only as minors, and the school’s minor in Italian will be eliminated.
I don’t really know everything that is going on here, but there’s plenty that is suspicious. First, the new president started in August. That means he basically immediately decided to revamp the university by firing professors and cutting majors without any real knowledge of what is happening on the ground. These things don’t happen in a week. Second, the faculty union sharply disagrees with the president’s description of the school’s financial problems. At the very least, the president could work with the union here. But that’s not happening at all. Instead, the president is just destroying the university. Third, one has to question how the school is struggling like this with a $38K price tag. Seventy-three percent of Rider students receive some kind of aid, but more than that I am unable to find out with the resources I have at hand. It’s $65 million endowment is not fantastic but more than many other schools.
Again, I don’t know the whole story. I do know that the unilateral firing of dozens of professors is something we are seeing more and more as presidents decide to raise their own reputation by restructuring universities in ways that eliminate pesky faculty and their pesky unions. At the very least, one must believe that there was a better way to deal with this than the unilateral firing of professors and elimination of core majors.
And of course the Division 1 basketball team remains untouched.