Focusing on Students First

Strategic Plan / Focusing on Students First
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Focusing on Students First

Our unwavering focus on student growth and development inspires students to expand their learning beyond the classroom, building an engaged and vibrant community of learners and readying students for real-world success.


  • Full-time undergraduate enrollment will increase 12% or 438 students (from 3,743 in fall 2016 to 4,181 in fall 2021)
  • Graduate enrollment will increase by 7% or 1,000 credits (from 13,038 in fall 2016 to 14,009 in fall 2021)
  • Freshman to sophomore retention will increase to 85% by fall 2021, up from 78% in fall 2016
  • The 4-year graduation rate will increase to 65% for the fall 2017 entering cohort, up from 57% for the fall 2012 entering cohort
  • The resident student population will increase 17% to 2,540 by fall 2021, or 61% of our full-time population. This is up from 2,177, or 58% of our full-time population, in fall 2016
  • Ten new academic programs will be established by fall 2020, including new undergraduate and graduate offerings in such areas as Analytics, Kinesiology, Cybersecurity, Actuarial Science, Engineering and Technology
  • NSSE scores will improve particularly in the areas of Academic Challenge and Quality of Interactions
  • Job placement rates in the upper 90s
  • Gallup Purdue index related to student/alumni professional engagement and personal well-being

Implement the Engaged Learning Program beginning with the fall 2017 entering class.

Approved by UAPC in May 2016, the Engaged Learning Program, a new graduation requirement, is based on results from implementation of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and reflects widespread involvement of the University community, including faculty, staff, administrators and students. Engaged learning refers to activities in which students apply their knowledge in educational settings beyond the classroom; delve further with independent scholarship and creative expression; broaden their horizons with study abroad or cross-cultural encounters; become problem solvers, leaders and team members in their communities; and prepare for professional and civic lives that make a difference. The Engaged Learning Program complements the rigorous and robust curricula provided by Rider’s academic programs.

Beginning with the fall 2017 class, students will be required to complete at least two high impact engaged learning experiences that reflect the University’s strategic themes of leadership, ethics and social responsibility, and global and multicultural perspectives. These experiences, documented on the Engaged Learning transcript, will help students build bridges between their courses of study and the world in which they live.

The Engaged Learning Committee, established by UAPC, is charged with the following:

  • implementing and managing the Engaged Learning Program by verifying that each course and experience meets the criteria for inclusion
  • seeking out, evaluating and approving additional courses and experiences for inclusion
  • providing a mechanism for reviewing “one off” options presented by students or their advisors
  • reporting back to UAPC as requested.

In addition to the program components already being implemented, the Provost, working with the Vice President for Student Affairs and Deans, will incorporate the following additional action plans as s/he oversees implementation of the program:

Action Plans

  1. Establish a new position entitled Director of Engaged Learning to be responsible for implementation and assessment of the program.
  2. Engage faculty, administrators, staff and alumni in the Engaged Learning Program. Create-on and off-campus internships and other learning experiences through which alumni, administrators and staff serve as mentors, in addition to faculty, and build meaningful relationships with students.
  3. Incorporate engaged learning criteria into the promotion and tenure process and as the basis, in part, for existing faculty awards and grants.
  4. Build widespread awareness of and recognition for the program. Annually showcase successful student engagement, experiences and learning. Establish an annual award, to be presented as part of an annual showcase event, for students, faculty and/or staff that recognizes outstanding student engagement and learning experiences. Engage broad representation in the nomination process to emphasize the value of the program and elevate its visibility across the University.

Develop a First Year Experience (FYE) for all freshmen and transfer students.

Action Plans

  1. Develop a credit bearing program for all traditional freshmen and transfer students that anchors them in the disciplines; emphasizes a broad, liberal educational experience; supports their transition to Rider and integrates them more fully into the University community. Introduce them to their advisors and the learning objectives specific to their majors and the Engaged Learning Program. Provide the practical information needed to effectively navigate their academic and co-curricular experience. Determine how the course will be offered in light of the existing freshman seminar program and previous work to establish an FYE.
  2. Offer summer preparatory experiences for all incoming freshmen as an extension of new student orientation to set the tone for their four years at Rider. These experiences may be modeled after existing programs such as EOP, SSS and the STEM Summer Science Institute or they may be centered on building community among new students and faculty/staff. They should include an introduction to both academic and student life at Rider, and should be supported by appropriate faculty development programming that includes effective teaching and mentoring practices.
  3. Develop a coherent and meaningful set of academic and other experiences for freshmen and transfer students in their first year. Incorporate the Shared Read Program and Rider Classroom Experience events/activities throughout the academic year. Involve each student cohort in planning and hosting events/activities to which all students, faculty and staff would be encouraged to attend. Begin the academic year with a kick-off event in support of these programs.
  4. Engage sophomores meaningfully as first year experience mentors.

Create a comprehensive holistic advising model for all students that supports their academic planning and progression and career development and success.

Action Plans

  1. Utilize a team approach that includes faculty, student peers and administrators as advisors.
  2. Explore the possibility of developing a centralized electronic system by which all student-faculty/staff interactions are documented and accessible, fostering ongoing follow up and cross divisional tracking and awareness. Include access to such information as early warning notifications, academic evaluations (progress reporting and mid-term grading), engaged learning transcripts, financial aid information and career planning and skill-building throughout students’ tenure at Rider.
  3. Develop a comprehensive set of integrated tools to support student/advisor tracking of academic progress and planning, course selection, etc. Provide ongoing faculty/staff/student training in the use of these tools.
  4. Ensure consistent and timely feedback to students in all their courses through mid-term grading, progress reporting and early warning notification and follow up.
  5. Ensure more frequent student-advisor engagement beyond the course selection process. Develop an online scheduling program through which students can make appointments with their advisors and faculty. Adopt the requirement of an academic advisor’s signature prior to first year students’ withdrawal from courses. Eliminate the ability of advisors to green light multiple students simultaneously.
  6. Integrate the advising model with the First Year Experience and students’ career planning.
  7. Offer ongoing faculty/staff development programming in support of the advising role.
  8. Incorporate advising and assessment of advising as part of the promotion and tenure and performance development processes for those who serve in that capacity. Establish a mechanism by which advisors are regularly evaluated by their advisees.
  9. Name the program to brand and publicize it effectively (i.e. Rider Advising and Mentoring Program – RAMP)

Strengthen students’ persistence and timeliness to graduation.

Action Plans

  1. Engage families beginning with new student orientation to help them understand the challenges and expectations of college life so they, in turn, can better support their students throughout their academic career.
  2. Expand programming within the Academic Success Center such as Supplemental Instruction and Success Coaching. Ensure the appropriate academic and other support of students with disabilities through a collaborative effort of faculty and the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.
  3. Implement the Milestones Scholar Program (a revision of the programs formerly known as RAP and JumpStart) to provide needed academic and social integration in support of at-risk students.
  4. Engage transfer students during their community college tenure by creating opportunities for them to participate in Rider courses and programming.
  5. Expand J-term, summer, late term and weekend course offerings to support timely progress toward graduation.
  6. Expand on-campus jobs through the work-study program in support of students’ financial needs, providing additional opportunities to engage students in the Rider community and provide mentoring opportunities.
  7. Continue to implement academic programming with corresponding pricing structures that help to control student cost (e.g. 3+1 and 4+1 offerings).

Continue to revitalize curricular offerings and delivery methods to attract and retain students and non-traditional learners, strengthen the best of what Rider has to offer, and reflect advances in higher education, industries and the professions.

Action Plans

  1. Establish cutting-edge undergraduate and graduate programs in the sciences and technology that attract new students and build on existing curricular strengths. Complete the renovation and expansion of the Science and Technology Center in support of new and existing programs.
  2. Support the Health Studies Institute as it works to foster multidisciplinary dialogue; build programs and partnerships to benefit students, faculty and staff; support the public and private health sectors; and become a recognized and authoritative voice on topics related to health.
  3. Strengthen programmatic offerings in the College of Business Administration with a focus on the impact of big data in the business world. Implement targeted renovations in Sweigart Hall to include, among other renovations, the planned 1,000 square-foot Business Data & Analytics Center, which will serve as a hands-on learning environment to strengthen students’ preparedness for an array of business careers by equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and real-world experiences they will need to become leaders in a competitive global environment. The Center will help make CBA students more literate in analytics, technology, and financial problem-solving across all Business majors.
  4. Strengthen theater and musical theater opportunities with the renovation of the BLC and Yvonne Theaters.
  5. Continue to offer new undergraduate and graduate programs and delivery methods that respond to the interests of traditional and non-traditional students and working professionals. Expand 4+1 and 3+1 opportunities for talented and academically prepared undergraduates. Expand online degree and course formats, off-site partnerships (e.g. Bancroft), and partnerships with community colleges (e.g. 3+1 offerings and on-campus community college presence).
  6. Work with the Academic Policy Committees to streamline the pilot program process to encourage the exploration and implementation of curricular innovations.
  7. Establish an Honors College that will incorporate all existing honors programs. Create a living/learning community for all honors students that incorporates high levels of engaged learning. Expand scholarship criteria for honors students by requiring a credit-bearing thesis experience. Recognize students who successfully graduate from the Honors College with a special diploma designation.
  8. Establish a common academic core across the institution that addresses the University’s Student Learning Outcomes and incorporates the First Year Experience and Engaged Learning Program to ensure a common experience of excellence.
  9. Capitalize on cross-disciplinary synergies to establish areas of distinction within the colleges and schools. Continue to build on degrees that maximize curricular offerings through core courses within those degrees that can then be customized to the college/school in which the student resides (e.g. B.S.B.A./B.A. Organizational Psychology).
  10. Create options for student designed majors and interdisciplinary exploration to enable students to study more widely across the curriculum while also satisfying graduation requirements for their major.
  11. Build career preparation more fully into the curriculum across the institution following the model used by the College of Business Administration. A focused integration of the curriculum and the services of the Center for Career Development and Success prepares students for the world of work and highlight the transferable skills expected of future employers.
  12. Design and implement a process that incorporates assessment of student achievement of well-defined student learning outcomes in the formal evaluation of academic programs.
  13. Strengthen the academic portfolio based upon the recommendations of the Academic Prioritization Task Force and the strategic initiatives cited above. Allocate resources to programs based upon the outcome of the Academic Prioritization process and the utilization of the Boston Consulting Group matrix. Implement a zero based budgeting process and consider the use of Responsibility Centered Model (RCM) for graduate program budgeting.

Build a vibrant living and learning community that enhances the university experience for students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni, strengthens learning and campus spirit and further builds a sense of community, place and belonging.

Vibrant Learning Action Plans

  1. Develop and promote a diverse university community that is reflective and supportive of our diverse student population. This can be facilitated through ongoing intentional discussions in the campus community regarding issues of diversity as they relate to both the student experience at Rider and in society at large, fostering dialogue related to issues of diversity within academic programs, and employee hiring and support practices (as further reflected in the theme of being an employer of choice).
  2. Working with the LGBTQ Advisory Board and Student Government Association, ensure that the needs of students of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions are supported.
  3. Expand the array of linked courses and living and learning communities.
  4. Expand on programming and services that address the specific academic and student life needs of commuting, transfer, veteran and Continuing Studies students, integrating them more fully into the Rider community.
  5. Expand academic and cultural programming in the evenings and on weekends. Tie programming into the Engaged Learning Program, First Year Experience, Shared Read Program, Rider Classroom Experience, etc.
  6. Promote activities and events more effectively with a unified campus events calendar and more effective promotion. This can be addressed, in part, with BroncNation.
  7. Implement the recommendations of the Student Affairs Prioritization Task Force in the improvement of programs ranked in the lower quintiles.

Vibrant Living Action Plans

  1. Complete the front-campus mixed use residential/retail project on the Lawrenceville campus to enhance campus appeal, contribute to a vibrant living community, enhance on-campus living for upperclassmen, and support enrollment and revenue growth.
  2. Promote and enhance on-campus living. Renovate residence halls including air conditioning, common areas, bathrooms and ADA accessibility. Expand housing options for upperclassmen. Develop alternate residential pricing models.
  3. Foster a greater sense of university spirit through Rider’s Division I athletics. Promote individual and team achievements more broadly. Generate greater attendance at athletic competitions among students, faculty, staff, alumni and the surrounding community. Engage student-athletes more meaningfully with the broader student population.
  4. Expand and promote opportunities for students, faculty and staff to interact and engage meaningfully with one another and with the surrounding community. This can be in the form of academic, cultural, social and athletic (intramural) events; community service opportunities; the proposed team advising approach and interdisciplinary committees and departmental showcases where best practices and services are shared across the institution while also promoting leadership opportunities. Encourage staff throughout the University, where appropriate, to serve as advisors to student clubs and organizations. Create informal faculty-student meetings spaces throughout the University.
  5. Strengthen customer service and streamline efficiency within student support offices. For example, utilize technology in the form of automated service satisfaction surveys and digital documentation systems. Provide regular customer service training for front line staff and administrators and revise office hours to accommodate schedules of working students and parents. Emphasize customer service and user satisfaction in annual performance evaluations.