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New space for Rider’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion officially opens

The Center is designed to promote a sense of belonging for all Rider students
By
Adam Grybowski
10/06/2020

In September, Rider opened a new space in the Bart Luedeke Center dedicated to the University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion. The Center is a cornerstone of Rider’s efforts to cultivate a welcoming climate for its vibrant, diverse community.

The Center will provide support for multicultural clubs and student organizations, encourage a sense of belonging for underrepresented, marginalized and/or underresourced students, and promote education and community around issues of inclusion for all members of the Rider community. The prominent location of the Center signifies Rider’s core commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Our hope for the Center is twofold: that it promotes a sense of belonging for students inclusive of all of who they are, and that the engagement and education reaches everyRider student as they develop an understanding of how to lead in a diverse and changing world,” says Dr. Leanna Fenneberg, vice president for student affairs.

The Center’s opening completes an important initial objective of Rider’s Inclusive Excellence Plan.

“We want everyone to feel at home here,” says Dr. Pamela Pruitt, the executive director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. “The Center will be a place where all students can feel respected and valued.”

The Center grew out of the roots of Rider’s Multicultural Center, which debuted in 1992. The name change and physical Center were a longstanding vision of Pruitt’s. Today, the Center offers a robust slate of programs and events that support the exploration of identity and builds community through the promotion of recognition, affirmation and empathy for others.

Among its powerful programs are the Multicultural Student Leadership Institute (MSLI), which has helped first-year and transfer students from diverse backgrounds successfully transition from home to college life.

“The Multicultural Student Leadership Institute provided me with the resources to adjust to a new environment and the encouragement to work hard," says Aileen Merino-Lazo ’20, a political science major who is now the program assistant for the Latino Action Network Foundation.

The opening of the Center was several years in the making.

"It was important for the process of envisioning the space to include multiple perspectives from members of the community," Fenneberg says. “We engaged over 100 students, faculty, staff and alumni in various focus groups and planning discussions to assure the space captured the needs of current students and multicultural student organizations."

University Advancement is currently raising funds in support of the Center and its programming. More information about donor opportunities, including the chance to endow programs and name offices and resource rooms, can be found at www.rider.edu/center-diversity-inclusion.

Offices for staff in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion were originally situated on the first floor of the Bart Luedeke Center. It now occupies the area on the ground floor of the Bart Luedeke Center recently vacated by the University's radio station, 107.7 The Bronc. The radio station is now operating out of its new home on the second floor of the Fine Arts Center.

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion opened alongside another new space for students inside the Bart Luedeke Center. This July, Rider launched its new Student Navigation Office, which is designed to provide students with a proactive approach to success coaching that consists of a robust support system connecting their academic, social and career-oriented needs.

The diversification of the University's student body continues to grow. In the two most recent classes of incoming students, 49% of individuals reported as underrepresented (students of color and/or Hispanic). Rider's total student body now consists of about 40% of students who are underrepresented. This is in addition to the representation of other diverse identities, including 33% first-generation, 37% low-income, 16% with disabilities, a diverse representation of religious affiliations and a significant presence of students who identify as LGBTQ+.

This month, Rider will mark the one year anniversary of the unveiling of its Inclusive Excellence Plan. The plan set forth explicit goals around institutional inclusion, including improving the diversity of employees, enhancing cultural competency and enhancing support for underrepresented students, among others.

To make a gift in support of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, please visit www.rider.edu/center-diversity-inclusion or contact Denise Pinney, associate vice president of campaign operations and director of corporate and foundation relations, at 908-400-3859 or [email protected].