President Mordechai Rozanski delivered his annual Town Hall address on April 26, championing the value of a Rider education, as witnessed by student achievement and engagement, continual academic innovation, and the institution’s solid commitment to affordability. Overall, he reported that Rider was doing well.

President Mordechai Rozanski presented the Spring Town Hall and University Update on April 26.

A year of robust achievement by students and faculty, boosted by numerous innovative advances in curriculum and continued physical improvements to both campuses have enhanced Rider University status as a high quality institution positioned to offer premium value in higher education well into the future, President Mordechai Rozanski announced to an audience of faculty, staff, administrators and students in the Yvonne Theater, on the Lawrenceville campus at the Spring Town Hall on April 26.

Rider is continuing its progressive march toward the goals set forth in the Strategic Plan of 2005. Having achieved some 95 percent of the Plan’s goals, principally advancing student intellectual engagement and academic success, Rider is comfortable answering the popular national skepticism about the value of a university degree, Rozanski stated.

Elaborating on the point, Rozanski reported that Rider’s innovative academic agenda continues to serve the university well, with new programs debuting across all its colleges and schools. These include the launch of the College of Business Administration’s revised core curriculum; the College of Continuing Studies’ joint offering with the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences (SLAS) of the RN to BSN online completion program and the SLAS new M.A. in Business Communication, both of which expect state approval with an anticipated start date of fall 2012; Westminster Choir College’s new B.A. in Music, coming this fall; the School of Education’s new M.A. in Teacher Leadership; and the test of the Library One Search discovery to aid student access results from the many databases and catalogs.

CBA also had its prestigious AACSB accreditation in Business and Accounting renewed, while the School of Education met all NCATE standards, with all 18 programs receiving national recognition, though official notice is still pending. In addition, the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ new M.A. in Applied Psychology achieved BCBA certification by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, Rozanski said.

“We know we have terrific programs,” Rozanski said. “And it’s a proud occasion for us when our peers come to campus and affirm that.”

Rider is also readying its Periodic Review Report, a retrospective, current and prospective analysis of the University that is due on June 1 to comply with its Middle States reaccreditation procedure.

A major component of maintaining Rider’s commitment to student academic success are the University’s initiatives to raise its retention and graduation rates, Rozanski said, showing that the retention rate for academic year 2010-11 stood at 83 percent – ahead of goal, and up from 78 percent when  the Strategic Plan was started in 2005. In addition, Rider’s four-year graduation rates have increased 10 points since 2004.

Rozanski was clear that these encouraging numbers were not the result of chance, but rather, a consequence of programs engineered to engage freshmen and particularly undeclared students from the time they set foot on campus.

Among these programs are Discovery and GLASS, or General Liberal Arts and Science Studies, Supplemental Instruction, Peer Tutoring and Residential Programs such as the Learning Communities and Theme Housing. All these programs involve small group interaction with faculty and student peers, enhanced academic engagement and opportunities for social bonding meant to welcome and encourage learning and stimulate interest.

In addition to dedicated programming, Rider is assisting students in a practical sense to advance and complete their education by ensuring affordability in a difficult economy. Not only is it keeping tuition and fee increases at 4.6 percent, the lowest in a decade, but increasing institutional financial aid for fall 2012 by 8 percent – or $3.7 million – to a total of $50 million annually. This means that Rider’s financial aid budget has experienced a dramatic 79 percent increase since 2004, and fully 95 percent of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.

Such boosts to financial aid have placed a premium on institutional fundraising, and to that end, the news is good, Rozanski explained. Through April 20, total gifts and pledges to the University stood at $10.2 million, as compared to $4.4 million on that date in 2011. Moreover, this year’s figure includes more than $1.9 million in scholarship support, not including an estate gift of $2.5 million, which will be added to the endowment.

These capital donations, along with Rider’s recently refinanced debt, allow the University to take on several major capital construction projects as well energy-savings on both campuses. Among the major facilities projects will be the renovation of the dining halls on both campuses and the construction of a new 93 space parking lot on Princeton campus. The improved rate of the refinanced bonds will make possible $10 million in new institutional investments for energy initiatives such as new HVAC systems in the Fine Arts Center, Alumni Gym and the General Services building, a fume hood replacement in the Science and Technology Center and an emergency generator at Westminster Choir College this summer. They will be followed by new windows and air conditioning in Memorial Hall and a new tri-generation (heating, cooling and electricity) plant in summer 2013.

“Energy relates to sustainability across a range of projects, and we’re committed to this,” Rozanski said.

As for enrollment, Rozanski reported that it was still early to project fall new student results, though deposits were trending close to goal. But, given the economy, he expected the numbers to fluctuate over the next several weeks.

Student Achievement Highlighted by President Rozanski at the Spring Town Hall:

  • Jessica Nagle ’12, Secondary Education and German major, ESL minor, awarded Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to Austria. Jessica is Rider’s 6th Fulbright student since 2006.
  • Rider’s Model UN team again earned highest awards, including Outstanding Delegation and two Outstanding Position Paper awards in competition with more than 350 schools.
  • Six Radio and Television students won first place in The National Broadcasting Society’s Electronic Media Competition.
  • Kathryn Zeck ’14, Journalism, won first place for News Writing and Katherine Hambor ’14, Graphic Design, won first place for graphic work in the N.J. Collegiate Press Association competition.
  • Business students achieved success in the Small Business Institute, J&J Case, Rutgers Supply Chain Case Study and the CFA (Finance) Research Institute Challenge competitions.
  • Students in theater/musical theatre are landing professional summer stock jobs, including Kaitlyn Frotton ’12 performing a major role in Legally Blonde. She also won the Mark Twain comedy award at the Kennedy Center Irene Ryan awards.
  • Maria Huffine ’10 and Leeann Sinpatanasakul ’11, both Environmental Sciences, co-authored a manuscript with Dr. Hongbing Sun and Dr. Jonathan Husch that has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Contamination Hydrology.
  • Christine Sookhdeo ’12, Environmental Sciences, co-authored a manuscript with Dr. Daniel Druckenbrod accepted by the Bulletin of the New Jersey Academy of Science.
  • Justin Benner ’11, Psychology, poster accepted for 2012 Association for Psychological Science Convention in Chicago.
  • Miranda Rowland ’13 and Kristian Kohler ’13, Music Education, presenting paper at the International Music Education Conference in Greece this summer.
  • Rider students presented papers at the N.J. Communication Association Conference, the Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, and the Moravian Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.
  • Westminster Symphonic Choir, PBS Great Performances, broadcast from Central Park with N.Y. Philharmonic, Andrea Bocelli, Tony Bennett, Celine Dion. Rebroadcast during PBS fundraising drives 2011-12. Now available on CD and DVD.
  • Westminster Symphonic Choir’s 2011-2012 season included performances with New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Student-Athlete Achievements:

  • Field Hockey: 5th conference championship & 6th regular season title in 11 years; conference player, offensive player, & coach of the year honors, Virginia Egusquiza ’12 named 2nd and 3rd Team All-America.
  • Women’s Soccer: Abi Cottam ’13 named Academic All-American, the 1st Rider Bronc since 1995.
  • Swimming & Diving: Men won 2012 MAAC championship; women were runners-up for 3rdyear in a row; men Coach of the Year honors.
  • Track & Field: Men won outdoor 2011 MAAC championship; Coach of the Year honors; David Hightower ’13 earned All-East honors.
  • Baseball: Tied regular season record of 33 wins in 2011; Tyler Smith ’13 named 1st Team All-East, MAAC & N.J. Closer of the Year; Nick Crescenzo ’14 named MAAC & N.J. Rookie of the Year, Freshman All-America.
  • Overall, all student athletes achieved a 3.03 average GPA.
  • Five of nine men’s squads above a 3.0 semester team GPA.
  • 13 of 18 squads above a 3.0 semester team GPA.
  • 76 percent of female student-athletes above a 3.0 semester GPA.
  • Women’s Tennis received the NCAA Public Recognition Award for its APR score which ranked in the top 10 percent nationally.

A Sampling of Recent Faculty Achievements:

  • Dr. Ciprian Borcea published two papers (in the Bulletin of London Mathematics and Forum Mathematicum).
  • Dr. Daniel Druckenbrod published a paper in Ecological Indicators.
  • Dr. Mickey Hess published two new books: The Nostalgia Echo and The Novelist & the Rapper.