Emotional forum held to discuss major cuts at Rider University

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The controversy continues at Rider University after the school recently said it would eliminate 13 majors to save money. (WPVI)

The controversy continues at Rider University in Lawrence Township, New Jersey after the school recently said it would eliminate 13 majors and layoff several professors to save money.

The decision is not sitting well with students, who fear the quality of their education will suffer.

Tuesday morning Rider's president held a forum with student affected by these cuts to answer questions and explain why they're necessary.

While students may better understand the financial challenges the university is facing, they're still very upset by what's happening.

Last week the university announced that 13 majors and one minor are being cut along with at least 14 faculty positions.

Rider student Brittany Pennington tells us, "Now I either have to change my major or transfer schools, and financially I'm not able to do that so I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place."

University President Greg Dell'Omo says rising costs and declining enrollment have left Rider with a $7.6 million deficit.

Dell'Omo explains, "We had to begin making some cuts, both from the standpoint of helping to offset some of the deficits, but also to have some funds to be able to invest in new programs."

The university wants to grow new majors, such as criminal justice, health care management and sports management. But that means majors with smaller enrollments, such as art, marine sciences, philosophy and German, will go.

Students have started petitions online and on paper to rescind the cuts.

Petition organizer Kenny Dillon says, "We feel like we should be involved in these kinds of decisions... Because we're students and we pay so much to go here."

Rider tuition is over $38,000 a year. At this point juniors and seniors will be able to graduate with degrees in the majors that are being cut, but sophomores and freshman will have to switch or go elsewhere.

Many feel it's unfair to eliminate 13 majors without warning.

Student Alejandra Monton says, "To the students, to the professors, to the parents who are paying tuition, to the parents who are co-signing loans."

Junior Victoria Duffy of Medford says Rider was the only school in New Jersey that offered a business education degree. That's now on the list to be cut.

She reacted by telling us, "I'm frustrated because they're taking away my field of study, which is rare and made me unique."

Sarah Loricco reacted to Tuesday's meeting by saying, "It's still frustrating as a student, but you've got a different perspective on why they had to make these decisions financially."

Rider says in some of the majors cut there were as few as two or three students enrolled, and with a decrease of 14 percent in the number of students enrolling in the freshman class this year, officials had to take some kind of action to address that looming budget cut.
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