Since 1865, Rider has grown from a business college intended to help Civil War veterans learn the skills they needed to participate in the booming post-war economy to a comprehensive, student-centered university preparing the workforce of tomorrow in 100+ majors and minors.
Oct 2, 1865: Origins as a private business college
Rider University's origins can be traced back to October 2, 1865, when Henry Bryant, Henry Stratton and William Whitney opened the Trenton Business College as part of the Bryant and Stratton chain of private business education institutions. James S. Chamberlin, a teacher at the Bryant, Stratton and Whitney Newark Business College, moved to Trenton and became the first resident principal/president of the Trenton Business College. James S. Chamberlin became the schools first resident principal/president.
April 1866: Change in resident Principal/President
In April 1866, Chamberlin resigned as principal/president. George Gaskell, a noted teacher of penmanship at the Newark Business College, became the new resident Principal/President of the Trenton Business College.
1866: Andrew Jackson Rider comes to Trenton
In June 1866, G.A. Gaskell, second principal of the Trenton Business College, resigned and returned to teaching at the Newark institute. Andrew Jackson Rider, also a teacher at the Newark branch, agreed to move to Trenton and become the Trenton Business College’s third principal.
August 1866: Joseph Beecher becomes co-owner of the Trenton Business College
In August 1866, Joseph Beecher purchased W. Whitney's 50% interest in the Trenton Business College and replaced Rider as the school's Principal/President. Rider remained at the school as a teacher. In 1867, Beecher became sole owner of the school.
1866: The first women were admitted; the first evening class occurred
1868: Andrew Jackson Rider becomes part owner of Trenton Business College
In February 1868, Andrew J. Rider purchased half-interest in the Trenton Business College, creating the partnership of Beecher and Rider. Joseph Beecher moved to Newark in 1869 with A.J. Rider assuming full control, but not full ownership, of the Trenton Business College.
November 1870: William B. Allen becomes co-owner of Trenton Business College
In November 1870, Joseph A. Beecher sold his share of the school to William B. Allen, who shared administrative responsibilities with A.J. Rider. The Institute continued under the partnership of Rider & Allen until August 1873, when Rider dissolved the partnership to pursue his growing interest in the cranberry business. Allen became sole owner of the school, created a Telegraphy department and hired Thomas J. Stewart as teacher and assistant administrator. In 1878 A.J. Rider rejoined the Institute, becoming its Business Manager., Allen remained sole owner of the school.
1880: Andrew Jackson Rider becomes sole owner of the Trenton Business College
In April, 1880 William B. Allen sold the Trenton Business College to Andrew Rider.
April 1883: Opening of the Stewart & Hammond Business College in Trenton
In April 1883, Thomas J. Stewart resigned as vice-principal of the Trenton Business College and partnered with William Hammond to open the Steward & Hammond Business College. In 1885, Stewart became sole owner of the school. The often bitter Trenton Business College/Stewart Business College rivalry continued until 1901.
1895: Trenton Business College Renamed Rider Business College
In 1895, Andrew Rider changed the name of the Trenton Business College to the Rider Business College.
1901: Ownership changes for Rider Business College and Stewart Business College
In 1901, Andrew Rider and Thomas Stewart retired. Franklin B. Moore, secretary of the Rider Business College, purchased the Rider Business College. In June 1901, John E. Gill purchased the Stewart Business College. Moore and Gill merged the two schools in July 1901, forming the Rider-Moore & Stewart Business Colleges.
1901: Opening of Renamed the Rider-Moore and Stewart School
The Rider-Moore and Stewart Business College opened in August 1901 with Franklin B. Moore as President and John E. Gill as Vice President. The school operated under the Moore-Gill partnership until it was incorporated in 1917.
1913: Curricula Expands to Include Commercial Teacher Education
By 1913, the College had established a school of education and announced the commercial teachers training course, becoming one of the first institutions in the nation to develop a two-year program to specifically meet the need for teachers in this field.
1920: John Finley Williamson founds the Westminster Choir at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio.
1921: Name changed to Rider College
By 1921, President Franklin B. Moore and Vice President John E. Gill completed their long-sought goal to build the College its own building, moving the school to its new site at 428 and 430 E. State Street. At the same time, they amended its incorporation to change the school's name to Rider College.
1922: Granting of College Degrees Authorized
In 1922, the N.J.State Board of Education granted Rider College permission to confer the degrees of Bachelor of Accounts and Bachelor of Commercial Science.
1926: The Westminster Choir School is founded.
1927: Rider College Granted Permission to Confer Graduate Degrees
The New Jersey State Board of Education granted permission for Rider to confer graduate degrees in Master of Accounts and Master of Commercial Science.
1928: Alumni Association Organized
The Alumni Association is organized with Harold L. Conover ’23 as the first president.
1928: Westminster Choir and the Cincinnati Symphony made the nation’s first coast-to-coast radio broadcast, aired over Station WLW.
1929: Clair F. Bee introduces intercollegiate athletics
Intercollegiate athletics are introduced by Clair F. Bee, the College’s first director of Athletics and first coach for football, basketball and baseball. Coach Bee, who would later coach the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets and author the famed Chip Hilton novels for boys, named Rider’s athletics teams “The Roughriders.” He served as director of Athletics until 1931. By 1934, the athletic program expanded to include soccer, basketball, wrestling, swimming, track & field and tennis.
1929: Westminster Choir College is established and moves to Ithaca College.
1932: Westminster Choir College moved to Princeton, N.J.
1934: Franklin Frazee Moore ’27 named president
Franklin Frazee Moore ’27 becomes College president upon the death of his father, Franklin B. Moore.
1934: As the first official American guests of the Soviet Union, with whom the United States had just resumed diplomatic relations, Westminster Choir made the first broadcast from Russia to the United States.
1937: Rider becomes a nonprofit
The Board of Governors voted to amend the College’s Certificate of Incorporation to establish itself as a nonprofit institution.
1938: Westminster Choir, with conductor and founder Dr. John Finley Williamson, presented the first U.S. performance of Joseph Haydn’s Passion (The Seven Last Words). The performance also featured a volunteer orchestra of Princetonians, including Albert Einstein in the violin section. # The Choir sang at the dedication of the New York World’s Fair.
1939: Westminster Choir sang for the first time with the New York Philharmonic. Since then, it has set a record for the number of joint performances – more than 350 - by a single choir and orchestra.
1945: S.S. Rider Victory: World War II ship named after Rider College
Rider was one of just 22 institutions of higher education in the United States honored by having a ship, part of the U.S. Maritime Fleet, named for the College, joining such universities as Cornell, Purdue, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. The S.S. Rider Victory was a 10,500-ton vessel, christened March 26, 1945, at the California Shipbuilding Yards in Wilmington, Calif.
1947: Fraternity reenacts Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware
On June 23, 1947, the brothers of Phi Sigma Nu Fraternity staged a full-dress reenactment of the Gen. George Washington’s historic 1776 crossing of the Delaware River as part of the fraternity’s new-member initiation. The reenactment was chronicled in the February 17, 1947, issue of Life magazine in a four-page photo spread.
1955: Middle States accreditation granted
Rider College receives full academic accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The athletic teams are renamed the “Broncs,” replacing the “Roughriders” moniker.
1956: Plans underway to relocate the campus
The Board of Trustees purchases property in Lawrence Township for the location of a new campus to advance the future of Rider College and meet the needs of the post-war population.
1957: Groundbreaking Ceremony on the Lawrenceville campus
The groundbreaking ceremony is held for the Lawrenceville campus. Programs in liberal arts and secondary education leading to the Bachelor of Arts are inaugurated.
1957: Westminster Choir completed a five-month, globe-circling tour under the auspices of the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Exchange Program. The tour was the longest goodwill tour ever made under that program. The Choir performed in 22 countries, traveled 40,000 miles and appeared before 227,000 people.
1958: Alumni Gym completed
Construction of Alumni Gymnasium is completed and the building officially opens for student use. Rider hosted Seton Hall in the new building’s men’s basketball debut. The construction of Alumni Gym was the fulfillment of a promise made by President Franklin F. Moore to the Alumni Association nearly 20 years earlier that the structure would be the first one completed once a more suburban campus was secured.
1959: Short Title Theater ’59 is inaugurated
Theater ’59, a program in educational theater, is inaugurated. Theater ’59 began by utilizing the Arts Barn, a converted building that had been a barn on the farm. The barn served the program well and contributed to the launch of the College’s drama program. In 1962, Theater ’59 was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense to be part of an eight-week USO tour for a production of Bye Bye Birdie. By 1967, Theater ’59 had achieved a level of excellence and was invited to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
1959: First graduate program leading to the Master of Arts degree.
The School of Education begins Rider’s first graduate program leading to the Master of Arts.
1962: College reorganization
The College is reorganized into five schools by adding two new schools – Graduate School and Liberal Arts and Science – to the three existing schools, Business, Education and Evening.
1964: Complete relocation of campus
Rider College was completely relocated to the Lawrenceville campus in June 1964, with the move of all classes, administration and facilities.
1964: Westminster Choir sang on the Telstar World-Wide Telecast in the spring for the opening ceremonies of the New York World’s Fair. This reportedly was the largest audience ever to see a television show at that time.
1965: Highlights of Rider’s centennial year
A highlight of the year was the dedication of the newly constructed library, named in honor of President Franklin F. Moore. Another significant dedication was the dedication of the College Chapel on May 16 in memory of the late Dr. J. Goodner Gill, vice president of the College, who died in 1959.
1965: For the first time the Choir appeared with three major orchestras in one year: the Berlin Philharmonic, the American Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
1966: The Fine Arts Center dedication
The Fine Arts Center, with a theater seating capacity nearing 500, was dedicated.
1966: The Choir appeared for the first time in New York’s Philharmonic Hall singing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the New York Philharmonic.
1968: Master of Business Administration Program Inaugurated
The School of Business Administration inaugurates graduate study, leading to the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A).
1969: Frank N. Elliott named president
After an extensive search, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Frank N. Elliott, vice president at Hofstra University, Rider College President.
1970: An annual series was instituted featuring the National Symphony and the Westminster Choir, performing in Washington, D.C., and New York. The Choir performed the world premiere of Panufnik’s Universal Prayer at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York and recorded Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice on Decca with conductor Erich Kunzel.
1971: Junior Year Abroad established
During the programs first year, 16 students studied abroad in France, Austria and Spain.
1971: Westminster Choir performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during the inaugural week of concerts with the Piedmont Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Nicholas Harsanyi. The work performed was The Dawn of Glory by Christian Latrobe.
1972: Westminster Choir performed and recorded the American premiere of Messiaen’s The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center. This concert marked the Choir’s debut with Maestro Antal Dorati. # The Choir began its first summer as the chorus-in-residence for the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy, at the invitation of Gian Carlo Menotti.
1973: Rider receives Teacher Education accreditation
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) grants accreditation to the programs in the School of Education.
1975: Westminster Choir premiered William Schuman’s Casey at the Bat with the National Symphony Orchestra.
1977: Westminster Choir became the first chorus-in-residence at the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. in Charleston, S.C., at the invitation of Gian Carlo Menotti.
1978: Westminster Choir established its own recording label, copyrighted “Westminster Choir,” and released its first recording: Six Motets of Johann Sebastian Bach, with guest conductor Wilhelm Ehmann.
1980: Westminster Choir was the first choir to be featured on the “Live from Lincoln Center” telecast series over National Public Television. The Choir performed Verdi’s Requiem with the New York Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta.
1982: Westminster Choir was part of the 10,000th performance of the New York Philharmonic, America’s oldest permanent orchestra
1982: Baccalaureate Honors Program created
The Baccalaureate Honors Program was designed to enrich the educational opportunities and permitted the scholars to explore diverse forms of thought.
1984: Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center established
The center was designed to serve as an educational conduit to provide speakers seminars workshops and a variety of programs on the campus as well as serve as a resource center for the community.
1988: Westminster Choir sang Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the New York Philharmonic under the composer’s direction in a performance at Carnegie Hall celebrating the 45th anniversary of Bernstein’s conducting debut with the orchestra.
1990: Dr. J. Barton Luedeke named president
Upon the retirement of President Frank N. Elliott and an extensive search for his replacement, the Board of Trustees announced that J. Barton Luedeke, the vice president for Academic Affairs and provost at the College since 1983, had been selected to be Elliott's successor as Rider’s president.
1990: Athletics Hall of Fame established
The Athletics Hall of Fame was established to honor the student-athletes and members of the coaching staffs responsible for Rider’s 60 years of outstanding achievements in athletics.
1990: Westminster Choir performed the world premiere of Menotti’s Salve Regina in Spoleto, Italy. # Westminster Symphonic Choir sang in the Leonard Bernstein memorial concert at the invitation of the Bernstein family.
1991: Westminster Symphonic Choir performed at Carnegie Hall’s 100th Anniversary Celebration.
1992: The merger with Westminster Choir College
After more than six decades of choral excellence, Westminster Choir College had earned a worldwide reputation for maintaining its unique choral emphasis. After a brief period of affiliation, between the institution and Rider, a merger occurred on the Westminster Choir College campus, six miles north of Rider’s Lawrenceville campus, on Route 206. The signing of the merger created Rider’s fifth school: Westminster Choir College, the School of Music of Rider College.
1993: School of Business receives national accreditation
In April 1993, the proud academic reputation of the School of Business was validated when it received accreditation from the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business
1993: Westminster Choir performed the world premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s A Time to Dance with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra at the American Choral Directors Association’s national convention. # Conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, Westminster Symphonic Choir participated in The Philadelphia Orchestra’s first performance of Britten’s War Requiem.
April 13, 1994: Rider officially granted university status
Rider College officially assumed university status on April 13, 1994.
1996: Westminster Choir, conducted by Joseph Flummerfelt, traveled on a concert tour of Korea and Taiwan and performed in the Colmar Music Festival in Colmar, France
1997: College of Business Administration building renamed
In October 1997, the College of Business Administration building, completed in 1988, was named Anne Brossman Sweigart Hall, honoring a graduate of the Class of 1934.
1997: Beloved elm tree is removed
The 86-year-old elm tree that had come to symbolize the Lawrenceville campus was removed in July 2007 after developing Dutch elm disease, an untreatable condition.
1999: Westminster Symphonic Choir performed the world premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Oltra Mar, 7 Preludes for the New Millennium with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Kurt Masur.
2000: AACSB grants specialized accreditation to Accounting
The American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) grants specialized accreditation to the Accounting program in the School of Business Administration.
2000: Yvonne Theater dedicated
In November 2000, through the generosity of John Spitznagel '63, Rider's main theater was renovated and rededicated as The Yvonne Theater in memory of his wife, Yvonne Alexander Spitznagel '64
2001: Rider Institute for New Jersey Politics established
Founded in 2001 by the late Professor David Rebovich (1949-2007), the Institute is a dynamic and creative learning resource where students can network, study and gain practical experience in New Jersey politics. In 2008, Ben Dworkin was named the new director of the Institute for New Jersey Politics, which was renamed the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics that September.
2001: Westminster Choir and the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Joseph Flummerfelt, performed the world premiere of Stephen Paulus’ Voices of Light, commissioned by Rider University to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of Westminster Choir College.
2002: To commemorate the events of September 11, 2001, Westminster Choir was featured in the PRI national radio broadcast of “In the Shadow of the Towers.” They were joined by President George W. Bush and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Westminster Symphonic Choir’s performance of Verdi’s Requiem with the New Jersey Symphony was broadcast nationally by PBS.
August 1, 2003: Mordechai Rozanski named Rider University president
Mordechai Rozanski, president of the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada, became Rider University president on August 1, 2003. Guided by a comprehensive strategic plan, President Rozanski has undertaken a successful program of institutional renewal that is leading the University to the next level of excellence.
2004: Center for the Development of Leadership Skills established
The Center for the Development of Leadership Skills (CDLS), launched in the fall of 2004, strives to develop the leadership capacities of the Rider community
2004: Westminster Choir premiered Arise My Love by Stephen Paulus, a gift from the composer to celebrate Joseph Flummerfelt’s extraordinary career. # Westminster’s artistic director, Joseph Flummerfelt, was named Musical America’s 2004 Conductor of the Year, the first choral conductor to be so honored.
2005: Student Recreation Center opens
As part of the facilities renewal in the campus-wide strategic plan that charts the University’s future, the 55,000-square-foot, state-of-the art Student Recreation Center is opened and becomes operative on October 20, 2005. New Hall, a newly constructed residence hall, is also opened.
2005: Westminster Symphonic Choir performed Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloë (complete) for the first time with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Lorin Maazel.
2006: Westminster Symphonic Choir participated in the New York Philharmonic’s first performance of Mozart’s Mass in C, K. 317 “Coronation,” conducted by Lorin Maazel. Joe Miller was appointed Director of Choral Activities.
2007: Rider establishes Westminster College of the Arts
Following the 1992 merger with Westminster Choir College, Rider secured Westminster’s world-renowned music programs and provided a catalyst for expanding and developing the University’s focus on the arts. The establishment of the Westminster College of the Arts in 2007 began to successfully integrate Rider’s commitment to the fine and performing arts on its Lawrenceville and Princeton campuses through the Westminster Choir College in Princeton and the School of Fine and Performing Arts in Lawrenceville.
2008: Jason Thompson ’08 selected in first round of NBA Draft
Jason Thompson ’08 was selected 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2008 National Basketball Association Draft in June. The talented, 6-foot-11 Thompson became the first Rider player to play in the NBA. His selection was televised nationally on ESPN.
2008: Westminster Symphonic Choir performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Gilbert Kaplan, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the work’s American premiere.
2009: LEED-certified West Village residence halls open
When President Mordechai Rozanski joined the American College Presidents Climate Commitment Initiative, he pledged the University’s support in the crusade against climate change. The completion of the West Village residence halls in September 2009 embody that commitment, having been built to comply with the U.S. Green Building Council’s standards for sustainable construction. West Village earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification from the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.
2009: Flower of Beauty, Westminster Choir's first full recording with Joe Miller, was released. American Record Guide describes the Choir as "the gold standard for American academic choirs."
2011: Westminster Symphonic Choir performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra for the first time under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
2012: Westminster Symphonic Choir performed with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra for the first time.
2014: Rider kicks off sesquicentennial celebration
Rider University officially kicked off its sesquicentennial celebration on Sept. 16, 2014, heralding a year of events with an appearance and lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and the annual Cranberry Fest celebration held on the campus mall.
2014: Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D. named University president
On Dec. 4, 2014, the Rider University Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D., as Rider president.
2014: Westminster Williamson Voices' and James Jordan's recording of James Whitbourn's Annelies, the first major choral setting of The Diary of Anne Frank, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance.
2015: Westminster Symphonic Choir performed Leonard Bernstein's Mass: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers for the first time with The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
2016: Westminster Kantorei performed in France and England. Westminster Williamson Voices performed Arvo Pärt's Kanon Pokajanen at the Metropolitan Museum's Temple of Dendur.
2017: Launch of Rider's Engaged Learning Program
The heart of a Rider education, the 2017 freshman class was the first to experience the fully implemented Engaged Learning Program which requires all new students to complete at least two high-impact engaged learning experiences to satisfy their graduation requirements.
2017: Adoption of Strategic Plan
Our Path Forward, Rider's strategic plan, was approved by the Board of Trustees on June 2. The plan outlines the decisive action Rider will take to achieve the visionary growth that is necessary to ensure the University’s sustainability into the future and provide successive generations of Rider students a transformative and affordable college experience.
2017: Launch of first doctoral program
Rider announced a new Doctor of Education in educational leadership, the first post-master’s degree in the University’s history. The hybrid program is designed to be completed in three years and includes coursework both on campus and online and two summer residencies.
2017: Westminster Kantorei's first solo recording - Lumina - was released on the Westminster Choir College label. Westminster Choir represented the United States at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona.
2019: Westminster Choir celebrates 100 years of singing
The Westminster Choir marked its 100th anniversary season with a concert tour on both coasts of the United States.
2019: Celebrating 50 years of graduate business excellence
Rider graduate business programs marked an important milestone — 50 years of helping students reach their potential as business leaders. Rider launched its first graduate business program, the Master of Business Administration, in 1968 and graduated its first class in 1970.
2019: Rider's business college named for distinguished alumnus Norm Brodsky ’64
Rider University’s College of Business Administration is named the Norm Brodsky College of Business after a multimillion-dollar investment by the distinguished alumnus Norm Brodsky ’64 and his wife and business partner, Elaine, to endow a scholarship for business students and to support future business school projects. Their gift is the largest donation ever received by the University.
2020: Stella Johnson selected by Phoenix Mercury in WNBA Draft
Rider University senior women's basketball guard Stella Johnson was selected 29th overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury on Friday, April 17. Johnson becomes the first-ever Rider women's basketball player to be drafted into the WNBA.
2020: Westminster’s next chapter
This historic moment marks the first time the Choir College will be fully integrated within the University’s main campus since Rider and Westminster merged in 1992.
2022: Rider University announces $80 million fundraising campaign
Rider announced the public launch of its $80 million campaign, Transforming Students — Transforming Lives. It is the largest comprehensive campaign in the University's history.