By Deborah Rosenthal
Since I retired in 2016 (following the canceled layoffs of full professors), I’ve been following Rider’s news from off campus. I remain, always, interested in the fate of the university where I spent 26 years of rich experiences by teaching all the panoply of the courses of painting, drawing and graphics; and I am saddened and angry by what I see. In 2015-16, âuniversity prioritizationâ was launched by the university administration. This bland phrase put a neutral face on a process that has in effect destroyed essential disciplines – laying off full professors, reducing course offerings, eliminating majors and minors in core disciplines of the arts and humanities – and always directs the university towards a future as a vocational school. It is pretty obvious that the recent hiring of an expensive outside consulting firm is a mandate to continue, streamline and perhaps accelerate the implementation of a âbusinessâ model – the president of the University talks about it. higher education as an “industry”, after all – a vision of the university based not on universal intellectual and cultural values, but on only manipulable statistics. Close the library one day a week. Cut your budget. Sacrifice learning, cross out the reserve of books and knowledge, all to pay businessmen to starve (prioritize) the arts and humanities right out of Rider. Example from my corner of the institution: the small but intensive (and indeed well known in New York art circles) major in painting major has been abolished; Westminster College, the prestigious music school, moved from its campus, crushed to virtually zero resources and students.
The rider I knew and proud to teach was made up of faculty and students who experienced the transformational power of learning. In higher level painting, drawing, printmaking, design and special subjects courses, I engaged with majors in education, business administration, English, biology, etc., etc., etc. . The studio facilities were always underfunded. , and inadequate â but the work together, teacher and students, was often brilliant and even profound. I have met former students of mine – from all kinds of majors – in the galleries of museums, who approach me to tell me that they are there because of what happened in our studio classes; because of the intrinsic value of the arts as a companion to the liberal arts, at the heart of the university. I’m concerned that the Rider administration’s faith in statistics and misplaced priorities (instead, keep the library open and recognize it as a top priority!) – endangers the entire effort of the university. I urge students to support the faculty in resisting a plan and planners who would trade the truth and beauty that can be found at Rider University.
Deborah Rosenthal, Emeritus Professor of Fine Arts