Rider adds new programs after 2022 cuts

By Caroline Haviland 

AFTER eight undergraduate majors and programs were cut from Rider’s repertoire last summer, the university is still looking to outwardly grow with a STEM studies major in elementary education and a Bachelor of Social Work program in the department of sociology and criminology. 

In an email sent to the university on Aug. 9, the new STEM studies major was announced as “building a pipeline of qualified teachers, particularly those in the STEM fields.”

Susan Dougherty, chair of the Department of Teacher Education, was quoted within the release saying, “Students in this program will not only have academic preparation in STEM topics but plenty of real-world experience before starting their professional careers.”

A separate email sent to the university on Sept. 20 announced the Bachelor of Social Work program, stating it intends to “prepare students to deliver social work services to individuals, families, organizations and communities in diverse settings, including health care facilities, schools, the criminal justice system and social service organizations.” 

Students in the program will be required to complete 400 hours of supervised fieldwork as a part of Rider’s Engaged Learning Program while fulfilling the required courses for the curriculum. 

According to the program’s director, Irma Sandoval-Arocho, it is expected to be offered at the university in fall 2024 due to the accreditation process. The STEM studies major will also be open for enrollment in fall 2024. 

Sandoval-Arocho, who began working at Rider this semester, has become a full-time faculty member assigned to the program in addition to Heather Lee, the director of field education.

“There are part-time faculty members that have traditionally worked with the minor in social work that will likely continue offering courses,” said Sandoval-Arocho. “One other full-time faculty member who has a social work background will teach courses in the program.” 

They hope to stand out from other BSW programs by providing specific tracks that have not been offered elsewhere. 

“We intend to offer a community outreach and an engagement track hopefully to be called Technology for Social Good Track,’ which is the other end of the spectrum for social work where social workers can use podcasts, blogs and social media to achieve social justice,” said Sandoval-Arocho.

She encouraged Rider students to partake in the new program, saying, “Life can change in an instant, and social workers are there to help. We go into the homes and non-traditional spaces. … This differentiates us from other professions, as it’s such a robust and flexible field.”

Kristine Brown, the associate vice president of university marketing & communications, shared a statement with The Rider News on the importance of new academic programs in the university’s curriculum.

“Adding new and relevant academic programs that are in demand is important as these new programs generate enrollment and revenue for the university. Creating new programs also helps to give our students a better chance at job placement after graduation for the most in-demand careers,” said Brown. 

To learn more about the Bachelor of Social Work program, contact Victor Thompson at vthompson@rider.edu or visit rider.edu/social-work. To learn more about Rider’s elementary education STEM studies major, visit rider.edu/elementary-ed or contact Dougherty at sdougherty@rider.edu.

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