University fundraising campaign nears historic goal

By Amethyst Martinez

In what was labeled a “historic announcement,” Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo held a speech in front of alumni, staff and faculty, in addition to students and their family on Oct. 29, highlighting progress as well as asking for donations toward a fundraising campaign looking to raise $80 million.

During Homecoming Weekend, Dell’Omo announced the public phase of the fundraiser “Transforming Students – Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Rider University.”

With bubbles blowing and sparklers fired up on stage, Dell’Omo smiled at the crowd during his speech, additionally suggesting that attendees go over to a designated donation table after to contribute financially to the university. The speech took place during the Homecoming Tailgate, where the Rider community was invited to campus with the promise of free food and Rider T-shirts.

“We wanted to find a time when you would all be gathered here together,” said Dell’Omo.

The university has been privately accruing money for the fundraising campaign since 2018. According to a university press release, this has been the largest fundraising event in Rider’s 157-year history. The $80 million is anticipated to help the university across all sectors, with more than $76 million raised already, according to Dell’Omo.

“I have found during my time at Rider that our community cares tremendously about our students and the future of this institution,” said Dell’Omo.

A video was also shown to onlookers to advertise the campaign, stating, “Transformation is not about just one student’s journey. It’s about all of our students, and that’s why it’s going to take all of us. Every Bronc.”

Dell’Omo stated that the last fundraising campaign took place almost 20 years ago between 1997 and 2003, where $50 million was raised.

“So far, more than 14,000 donors have quietly helped to raise more than $76 million,” said Dell’Omo. “That includes $20 million total from our Board of Trustees, for Rider’s highest priorities, priorities shaped by the university strategic plan.”

One board trustee, Jill Hammer Canastra ’72, and her husband Wayne Canastra ’72 have previously gifted $4.5 million to the athletics department.

According to the press release, the money will be used to “support campus projects such as renovating Alumni Gym and the recent expansion of the Mike and Patti Hennessy Science and Technology Center; building Rider’s endowment through support of scholarships and programs; and increasing contributions to the annual fund.” Alumnus Mike Hennessey’s donation of $4 million in 2020 to The College of Arts and Sciences in honor of his late wife Patti Hennessey was a part of the campaign, and resulted in the naming of the Mike and Patti Hennessey Science and Technology Center. Other donations in the fundraiser included Norm Brodsky ’64 and Elaine Brodsky’s $10 million donation, leading to the naming of the Norm Brodsky College of Business.

The fundraising campaign comes at a time when the university has been struggling financially, including the $16.6 million deficit the school faced last year, with the deficit budget for 2023 being $10.7 million, according to Dell’Omo at the September faculty convocation. According to the press release, the campaign has been ran predominantly by three alumni: Trustee and Campaign Chair Thomas Lynch ’75, and Campaign Vice Chairs Trustee Joan Mazzotti ’72 and William Rue ’69.

“We’re moving closely to that $80 million in a very short period of time with the support and help of everyone here and others [who] are going to give towards the university. But even though we need to celebrate that success, we’re not done,” said Dell’Omo. “I think $100 million sounds a heck of a lot better than $80 million, don’t you?”

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