By Jake Tiger
Sarah Trocchio, a former assistant professor at Rider, resigned from the university effective Sept. 1.
On Sept. 15, she woke up $2,649.53 richer after a stray Rider paycheck wandered into her checking account.
“I received a letter from the university confirming that my salary for the 2023-24 school year would be $0,” said Trocchio. “But I got paid.”
Trocchio is not alone in her confusion. Many currently at Rider, particularly students, have become accustomed to a sense of unreliability surrounding the university’s operations and its time-keeping system, ADP, which it adopted just over a year ago.
Now, after a summer scramble and broken promises from ADP, the university has decided to transition its student-workers to a new payroll system as soon as October, according to Rider Chief Financial Officer James Hartman.
“It’s just … it’s not working,” said Hartman. “ADP is not working for our students.”
‘Always been a struggle’
Rider’s payroll gripes have mostly originated from student-workers with multiple on-campus jobs, as ADP has consistently failed to process timesheets that need approvals from multiple supervisors.
When the university first moved to ADP last summer, it was “assured” that the software would be able to accommodate all students.
“It never worked,” said Hartman. “Supervisors ended up, throughout the last year, emailing their approvals and timesheets.”
In an attempt to end the issues, the administration plans to transition all student-workers by mid-October to Banner Web Time Entry, a payroll service owned by Ellucian, while the rest of the university remains on ADP, Hartman said.
The university intends to do a “limited rollout” for Banner WTE starting with the Oct. 9 pay period, where a select group (likely the Office of Information Technology’s student-workers and supervisors) will use Banner WTE for payroll, Hartman said.
If all goes as planned, all students will transition to Banner WTE beginning with the Oct. 23 pay period.
“Right now, we have a test group put together … students and supervisors,” said Hartman. “They’re trying to break it, give it all kinds of different scenarios.”
Despite the decision, Rider is still locked into the five-year contract with ADP that was inked in summer 2022, as the rest of the university will remain on the platform, and the company felt that Rider’s decision to replace ADP for students was justified.
“[ADP was] actually very apologetic. They’re not charging us anything,” said Hartman. “I said, ‘Guys, I’m not paying anything back. This didn’t work for us.’ And they said, ‘Yeah, we agree.’”
Before settling on ADP last summer, Rider looked into Banner WTE as a possible option, but it didn’t make the cut because its user experience was “clunky and almost worse than paper timesheets,” Hartman said.
However, Banner WTE has since been updated and should be more “seamless” with Rider’s system, as much of Rider’s digital operations already run through Ellucian Banner, its enterprise resource platform, according to Hartman.
The administration also believes Banner WTE will have no issues supporting students who have multiple jobs and supervisors, a weakness of ADP’s that students like senior graphic design major Jenna Krauss know all too well.
“It’s always been a struggle having two jobs and two advisers,” said Krauss, who works for the Academic Success Center and 107.7 The Bronc. “To me, [ADP is] just a really inconvenient program. … It’s on me all the time to make sure both of them are getting copies of my hours, and it’s just another thing that seems silly for me to have to worry about.”
‘A real mess’
According to Hartman, talks among university officials to move students away from ADP started last spring, as many at Rider had grown tired of the awkward email approvals that were needed to circumvent ADP’s shortcomings.
Those discussions began prior to an early-summer incident that sent the payroll office into a “scramble,” Hartman said.
At the end of each academic term, existing student-worker contracts are wiped from the payroll system so that new ones can be entered.
A problem arose at the end of the 2023 spring semester when students’ summer contracts were entered before the term changed, so when the system was cleansed, both the new and old contracts were deleted.
Hartman called the situation “a real mess.”
“We were spending all summer trying to clean that up,” said Hartman. “We didn’t know who was working, who was not working. We didn’t know who had a contract, who didn’t.”
The issue was exacerbated by the existing problems with ADP approvals, and Rider has only recently recovered from the blunder, though, a lone $2,649.53 conundrum still lingers.
Trocchio, despite reaching out to payroll about the incorrect transaction, still has the money in her account as of Sept. 26.
Hartman said he was aware of the issue, and that it was a result of “human error” in the human resources department, as her contract was never terminated.
Rider tried to reverse Trocchio’s direct deposit but the transaction was already processed, and now, she must write a check to the university to refund the payment, according to Hartman.
Trocchio said, “You’d think that, given all the financial stuff that the school has going on, they would want to keep track of every penny. … [It’s] really inconvenient for me, trying to keep track of money coming out that shouldn’t have been in there in the first place, which is a lot of what I experienced trying to get paid at Rider.”