In a town hall meeting on Oct. 29, Rider University president Gregory Dell'Omo announced that the university would be cutting 13 majors that are presently offered to students. He further announced that they would be cutting over 20 faculty positions, including 14 full–time staff positions.
The majors being cut include art and art history, advertising, American studies, business education, French, geosciences, German, marine science, philosophy, piano and web design.
These cuts have come to Rider in an attempt to close its deficit, which stands at $7.6 million.
“This is a tough day," said Dell’Omo to NJ.com after the town hall meeting. "But we would not have made this decision unless I really felt these were the right things for the university."
"Our first take on it was this is not necessary," said Faculty Union Contract Administrator and Chief Grievance Officer Jeff Halpern, in an interview with NJ.com. "A major restructuring without any conversations with the faculty is simply a formula for disaster."
While Dell’Omo lists these cuts as a financial necessity, not all students are happy with the decision.
“My peers and I are devastated,” said Regina Santangelo, a junior at Rider. “By cutting these programs, Rider has sent a message to its students loud and clear, ‘Rider doesn't care about your future or education, only the money that you pay.’ From now on, only juniors and seniors in these programs will be allowed to finish their requirements for their majors; freshmen and sophomores are out of luck. Their only choice is to transfer or to change their major to something they may not feel as passionate about. It was very poorly executed and the campus is in an uproar. We are losing so many professors that we love and who are passionate about their jobs. It's not fair. Everyone is on edge, if they cut all of these programs, what will they mercilessly cut next?”
According to Santangelo, there is the potential to add more programs in the future, but the scope is limited.
“There is talk of adding more programs now that they cut 13 last week,” Santangelo said. “But so far all we have heard is that they plan on adding to the business programs here. Rider is supposed to be a liberal arts college and a business school, but that's not something we can say anymore, now that there were so many cuts in the liberal arts area.”
Officials from Rider say this decision has been made to put the university on firmer ground, moving forward.
"The decision to move forward with these closures and changes was not made lightly. They have profound impacts on those who are directly affected by them," the university said to Inside Higher Ed. "But they are needed to put Rider on a more progressive path and position the university more strongly in an increasingly competitive environment."