The Ryder University Division of the American University Teachers Association has demanded the removal of Gregory Del’Omme, the president of Ryder University, in a resolution approved by the union on February 2.
The resolution outlines several reasons for Del’Om’s removal from office, starting with the strategic policies he adopted, which allegedly helped reduce the number of students, increase university debt and undermine trust in the university.
But Ryder University’s Board of Trustees on February 8 voted in favor of Dell’Omo and reaffirmed its support for Dell’Omo and his management team.
The AAUP resolution states that Dell’Omo’s strategic policies have led to years of cash shortages. These decisions led to a reduction in net income of $ 6 million, as well as an increase in non-tuition costs between 2015 and 2019 by $ 8 million.
The policy “significantly increased Rider’s debt over a period of time when similar institutions in the Rider market experienced an increase in entrants and net income,” the resolution said. The policy has led to “excessive and unsustainable debt burden, which costs $ 10 million a year to service,” the statement said.
The resolution also referred to the decision to move Westminster Choral College from the Princeton campus to the Lawrence campus, which she claims led to a loss of alumni support as well as legal and advisory costs as a result of lawsuits challenging the move.
Dell’Omo’s strategic decision to duplicate the Westminster College’s existing choir premises on the Lawrence Township campus has added additional debt to the university, the resolution said.
The move from Princeton to the city of Lawrence, which was completed by the 2020-21 school year, has led to a shortage of facilities that has further affected students, alumni, faculty and creative partners, the resolution said. It has also resulted in enrollment revenue losses in excess of $ 10 million per year for the university, the report said.
Overall, according to the AAUP resolution, Dell’Omo’s policy has led to a 19% reduction in the number of full-time entrants, which has reduced Rider’s registration to the lowest mark in 20 years. He failed to meet the benchmarks of the university’s strategic plan approved by Ryder University’s Board of Trustees, the report said.
“Poor management” of Dell’Omo cost Ryder University millions of dollars, said Barbara Franz, president of the AAUP branch of Ryder University.
“To fix this, he is planning layoffs and ransoms. The only person who should get a rose petal is Greg Dell’Om. If Ryder wants to survive, Dell’Om must go, ”Franz said.
Del’Om and the administration also came under fire from Westminster Choir students, who in December 2021 circulated a petition demanding the transfer of the Choral College back to the Princeton campus. He cited inadequate performance and practice at the Lawrence Township campus.
Westminster Choral College was an independent music school of the Conservatory until it merged with Ryder University in 1992. They maintained separate campuses until Ryder decided to sell the Princeton campus in 2016 for financial reasons.
Unable to find a buyer, Ryder University merged the two campuses and timely relocated Westminster Choral College to the Lawrence campus for the 2020-21 academic year.
Meanwhile, John Guarin, who heads the Ryder University Board of Trustees, said that while the voices of all members of the Ryder community were important, the council was “deeply disappointed” by the AAUP resolution.
The council supports Dell’Omo, Guarino said.
Guarino said Dell’Omo is committed to advancing Ryder University and providing it with a stable future. Some of the decisions Dell’Omo has taken to secure Ryder’s future may be unpopular, but the university needs to make changes, he said.
“The trustees fully trust President Del’Om and the steps he continues to take towards significant progress for Ryder so that he can overcome the current challenges and endure for many years to come,” Guarino said.
Del’Oma said Ryder University – like many private colleges that depend on tuition fees – continues to struggle with availability, recruitment, competition, cuts in state and federal funding, student retention and the expected decline in high school graduates.
The COVID-19 pandemic has supplemented the challenges already facing Ryder University, Del’Om said.
To achieve financial stability, Dell’Omo said, a voluntary employee separation program was announced last month. Certain employees are offered ransom, which is a voluntary dismissal in exchange for material and other incentives. The goal is to reduce the cost of salaries and benefits in the university’s operating budget.
The voluntary separation program does not include AAUP members because their employment conditions are governed by a collective agreement between the union and the administration.
To make Ryder University more attractive and competitive, several new initiatives have been introduced, officials said.
One of these initiatives requires students to go through at least two busy learning experiences: internships, cooperatives, study abroad, leadership and community service, officials said. Activities are documented and offer a more complete picture of the student.
Rider has also reduced tuition fees for new full-time students enrolled in the 2021-22 academic year as part of the Lifting Barriers program. Tuition for these students is $ 35,000 per year, while for students who are already enrolled – $ 46,270 per year. This does not include accommodation and meals, as well as additional fees.
The Lifting Barriers program provides support to students in career preparation and academic success. It helps them overcome the obstacles they face in higher education and early careers, such as learning to adapt – socially and academically – in college and beyond, officials say.
Cranberry Investment guarantees that students who perform their duties will be hired for entry-level work in their field of study or will be admitted to graduate school within six months of graduation, officials said.