September 22, 2006

Plan for Campus Connection
One college would link two towns

By Stephanie Mostaccio

The University is considering dramatic changes in the future to integrate the Lawrenceville and Princeton campuses.

President Mordechai Rozanski outlined a plan earlier this year that includes the creation of a new college on both campuses under one framework. It would offer students on both campuses the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Science’s programs in music, theater, dance and visual arts, as well as the programs offered at Westminster Choir College (WCC).

“The proposed plan paves the way for increased innovation and arts opportunities across the board at Rider,” said Rozanski. “Students and the University alike will benefit from opportunities and programmatic collaboration across all Rider University programs and through the development of new, innovative degree programs.”

The new college is designed to attract students who are interested in careers in the arts and arts-related fields, as well as those who would like to pursue their artistic talents while concentrating on a different major.

“It allows for a true interaction between professional, liberal arts and interdisciplinary tracks,” said Provost Donald Steven.

Dr. Patrick Chmel, the chairperson of the Fine Arts Department, agrees.

“It will greatly enrich the culture climate of both campuses and help to attract quality future students in all disciplines, not just the arts,” he said.

Chmel added that he hopes this new college will draw more students from the Princeton campus to Lawrenceville.

“Essentially, we’re looking to grow Westminster enrollment on the Lawrenceville campus,” he said.

The proposed new two-campus college would integrate programs and majors that are currently duplicated on both campuses.

But the proposed new college would also continue to offer Westminster’s core programs as well as the existing fine arts programs on the Lawrenceville campus, such as theater, music, visual arts and dance.

“In essence, we will be able to promote arts-related interdisciplinary across the curriculum while respecting traditional departmental approaches,” Robert Annis, dean of WCC, said. “As the curricula of the new college evolve, they will embrace the inherently collaborative nature of professional and scholarly activities in the arts as well as, more broadly, programs in Rider’s other colleges.”

If approved, students on both campuses would have the opportunity to take classes in the new college and its two schools. They would be able to choose to either travel between the two campuses or enroll in classes offered at the campus on which they reside.

If the Board of Trustees approves of the two-campus college, and if all planning and
governance approvals are completed, the new college would begin
offering classes in existing buildings on both campuses as early as fall 2007, and new
students will be recruited as early as fall 2008.

However, Rozanski added that the college needs to be fully developed by a study group involving faculty and administrators on both campuses before it is presented to the appropriate governance bodies for review and consideration.

Chmel said plans for the new college should be finalized before winter break.

“By the end of the fall semester we will have a very good idea of the overall
picture,” he said.

The construction of a new academic building on the Lawrenceville campus has also been proposed to accommodate the current enrollment needs as well as any growth that might occur after the new college is created.

A site for this new building has not yet been selected.

“Several locations on the Lawrenceville campus are being considered,” said Steven. “It will take a while to determine the location, which must conform to the University’s master planning.”

Depending on fundraising outcomes, the earliest the new academic building on the Lawrenceville campus will be constructed is 2009.

There have also been fundraising efforts since last year to create a new music building on the Princeton campus.

The process of combining Rider’s two campuses would have a great impact on the University.
“If approved, the successful integration of Westminster into Rider University will be a catalyst for the whole University to think innovatively, collaboratively and efficiently,” said Rozanski.

Chmel added that he is elated that this new college will soon be created.

“There has always been, in my mind, unrealized potential in the assimilation of performing arts on the two campuses regarding the assimilation but it hasn’t happened until now,” he said. “This will benefit everybody.”

Additional reporting by Jeff Frankel