Leadership program cut leaves students confused

By Jay Roberson

As Rider continues to make cuts to programs in attempts to pull itself out of the debt exacerbated by COVID-19, more and more programs are disappearing on campus. One of these programs is the Leadership Development Program (LDP).

LDP is a program that is designed to allow students to develop their leadership skills through teamwork, coaching and hands-on experiences. LDP graduate assistant Brooke Zindman spoke about the significance of the program in students’ futures.

“They’re always going to have that certificate of leadership on their resume. So it kind of puts them before anybody else when it comes to applying for jobs or applying for any other type of graduate school.” Zindman said.

Since the program proves to be very impactful, many students were unsure of why the program would be cut from Rider. In an email to The Rider News, the Dean of the Norm Brodsky College of Business and advisor of LDP, Eugene Kutcher said, “The Leadership Development Program (LDP) was discontinued as part of the larger effort to re-assess and prioritize programs and operations across the University.”

Students who actively participate in LDP have expressed their disappointment in Rider’s inability to continue the program.

“I think it’s really a shame. Honestly, I feel bad for the freshmen because they don’t get to experience LDP. It’s a great program and a great opportunity for college students to get more leadership training that they can apply to leadership positions on campus.” Senior elementary education major Angela Rizzo said of her feelings regarding the cut.

Junior Arts and Entertainment Industries Management major Megyn Kukulka is an LDP student who says she benefited from the program.

“I was allowed to grow as a leader and that helped me gain leadership roles at Saxbys and other places as well. It just kind of put me on a good start to my college experience. I also created relationships there that I’m very happy with, friendships and mentors,” said Kulkulka.

Kutcher emphasized that students who are already in LDP will have the ability to complete the program.

“While the program is not recruiting any new students, we are dedicated to doing right by all of the students who have already committed to the program. All students currently enrolled in the LDP will be able to earn their leadership certificates if they complete the requirements of the program.”

Although LDP will allow current students to graduate, some students who were actively involved in LDP have decided to drop out of the program due to the ever changing nature of it since the removal of former director Laura Seplaki. Sophomore Dance Science major Alli Fama, who dropped the program, expressed concerns with the way LDP was being handled.

“I understand needing the money and being financially in debt, but I think there should have been more,” Fama said. “… And I know a lot of people have dropped it including myself because of how, I hate to use this word, but how bad it’s become since Laura’s not running it.”

Zindman said, “A lot of the classes that people have to take is already built into their major regardless, so you still have to take those classes. It’s not like we have to pay any extra money for professors, or any type of additional funding.”

Zindman also spoke about the fact that freshmen signed up for Lead Camp, a program where freshmen come to school a week before move-in, and found out it was canceled.

She explained a situation where an incoming freshman signed up for lead camp and was confused and disappointed by the cancellation. The freshman asked why Lead Camp got canceled. Zindman had to break the news and tell her that the program was cut from Rider and not accepting new applicants.

The loss of the program will have a great impact on Rider students and the community created within the program.

“I think out of all the programs to cut, LDP kind of went under the rug, but I feel like it’s going to have more of an impact than they think it’s going to because if Rider wants to prepare their students for the real world,” Rizzo said. “I think leadership is one of the most important skills that you can learn and college is a great time to learn that.”

News editor Kaitlyn McCormick and copy editors Bridget Egan-Gum and Michelle Pellegrino are a part of the Leadership Development Program and had no part in the writing or editing of this story.

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