Class of 2023 officially starts at Rider

Nearly 900 first-year students kicked off the fall semester
Adam Grybowski

Rider University officially welcomed the Class of 2023. Nearly 900 first-year students began the next phase of their academic journey on Sept. 1, when new student move-in began at 8 a.m.

As is customary, Bronc Buddies helped students and their families make the transition as efficient as possible. Later that day, President Gregory G. Dell'Omo, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Students Ira Mayo and other administrators formally welcomed new students and their families to the Rider community during a ceremony.

"I hope that in addition to gaining personal enrichment and transformative experiences, you will also find a strong sense of belonging and family at Rider," Dell'Omo told students. "You will make your mark on this community. The faculty, staff, administration and your peers are on your team and you matter to them. When you win, we all win, and when you are facing a challenge, we will be there to support and encourage you."

Many more events took place on campus prior to the start of classes, including New Student Convocation, a talent show, and activity-themed events like Cranchella and the Playfair, designed to get students involved and interacting with their new classmates. Supporting Rider's efforts to connect underrepresented and/or marginalized students, students additionally participated in specific welcome events for LGBTQ+ students and allies and students of color. There are many additional events, including annual traditions, scheduled this month for students. 

While the majority of students from the new class come from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, in total 27 U.S. states and territories are represented, including California, Puerto Rico and Kentucky. Internationally, 26 countries are represented, including Australia, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.

Forty-nine percent of the new class is comprised of students of color, making it the most diverse class in Rider history. The diversification of the University's student body has been growing over the past several years. This year, in October, the University will formally unveil its Inclusive Excellence Plan, an outgrowth of work completed by the President's Council on Inclusion, which was charged with recommending how to promote the University's values around equity and inclusion.

"As an institution striving for inclusive excellence, we have been intentionally infusing efforts to promote equity and inclusion in all aspects of Rider's campus," said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Leanna Fenneberg. “We want to foster a community where each student feels respect and a sense of belonging.”

Rider awarded more than $95 million in financial aid to new students, with the average assistance package registering at $35,800. Ninety-nine percent of students receive Rider-funded scholarships and financial aid, including 10 students in the new class who received a Trustee Scholarship, which provides full-tuition payment.

"We are committed to making a Rider education affordable," said Vice President of Enrollment Management Drew Aromando. "We know what an important investment it represents for students and their families, and we're very proud to work with each student to personalize our financial-aid resources to their needs."

New students arrived at Rider amidst several major on-campus facility projects that recently finished or are near completion. Over the summer, renovations to three residence halls (Kroner Hall, Lake House and Delta Phi Epsilon) were completed, the latest in Rider's significant investment in student living facilities. In the Fine Arts building, a new digital media lab was designed to help first collaboration between a variety of majors, including a new program in game and interactive media design that began this year. The Science and Technology Center saw more upgrades to its labs and lecture halls and the Copolla Pool received a major overhaul.

Perhaps most dramatically, two of Rider's main dining areas, Cranberry's and the Pub, are poised to open on Sept. 10 after considerable renovations. As part of the new Cranberry's, a pergola and acrylic canopy, along with new seating, were constructed outside on the Bart Luedeke Center patio. Inside, Cranberry's will feature an open-concept, circular layout with wooden accents, bright colors and more natural light.

The new Pub was modeled on a sit-down, sports bar concept that will feature a full-service gastropub menu. It will also boast a larger bar area, new indoor and outdoor patio seating, and multiple televisions. Kiosk and mobile ordering will be available in both the Pub and Cranberry's.

"As always, our intention in pursuing these projects is to create an environment that is specifically designed to nurture a vibrant campus culture, where students have the spaces and the amenities to help them thrive academically and socially," says Mike Reca, vice president for facilities and university operations.

Classes officially began on Wednesday, Sept. 4. Among the more than 100 majors and minors that new students have to choose from are several recently introduced programs in addition to game and interactive media design, including a brand new major in cybersecurity.

Twenty-five new faculty members will be at the head of classrooms this year working with students. It is the largest number of new faculty that have joined Rider in at least the past seven years.

Supplementing the academic activities of new students will be required participation in the University’s Engaged Learning Program. As part of the Program, all Rider students are required to complete at least two high-impact engaged learning experiences to satisfy their graduation requirements. Those experiences — which include, among other categories, study abroad and cultural exploration, guided research and scholarship, and civic and community engagement — are documented on an Engaged Learning Transcript.

"Becoming involved in and out of the classroom is critical to contributing to the personal growth of students," Dell'Omo said. "It makes the college experience not only exciting and rewarding but also provides a competitive advantage for students as they prepare for life beyond Rider."