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RMU President Gregory Dell'Omo to leave RMU in June 2015 to become next president of Rider University, NJ

Saturday, November 1, 2014

DrDellOmo_podiumRobert Morris University President Gregory Dell’Omo will step down at the end of the 2014-15 academic year after a 10-year tenure to become the seventh President of Rider University (New Jersey), beginning on Aug. 1, 2015.

Dell’Omo’s years as the seventh President of RMU (2005-2015) have been marked by growth unparalleled in the University’s 93-year history, as it continues its transformation from a regional, commuter-based institution to a comprehensive residential University that draws full-time and part-time students from, not only the tri-state area, but across the country and around the globe.

“The University community and many important partners have embraced Dr. Dell’Omo’s strategic vision for RMU,” said Gary Claus, Chair of the RMU Board of Trustees and a 1974 Robert Morris graduate. “He leaves us with a strong and collaborative team of administrators, trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors who have helped propel Robert Morris in becoming a university of choice.”

Claus said the Board of Trustees will appoint a Presidential Search Committee from among its members that will be chaired by 1978 RMU graduate Richard Harshman, Vice Chair of the RMU Board of Trustees and Chairman, President, and CEO of Allegheny Technologies Inc. The Committee will select and engage a search firm to assist with what is expected to be a national selection process. The Trustees also will appoint a University Advisory Committee, which will include faculty, staff, students, and alumni to provide perspectives on the most important leadership criteria for RMU’s next President, as well as to help the Board Presidential Search Committee narrow the field of candidates.

“Many colleges and universities have struggled these last several years, but Robert Morris has thrived, thanks, in great part, to Dr. Dell’Omo’s leadership and the hard work and tremendous support of our highly accomplished faculty and staff,” said Claus. “RMU continues to deliver a professional education combined with the personal attention and engaged learning experiences that make RMU graduates so successful in their careers and personal lives. We are well positioned for the future, and we know that our presidential search will attract a high caliber of leadership.”

During Dell’Omo’s presidency, the University has enjoyed a rising academic reputation, dramatically increased the number of students living on campus, and launched a student engagement program that has impacted all aspects of campus life.

Dell’Omo led RMU through the completion of its most recent five-year strategic plan and its most recent comprehensive capital campaign. The fund-raising campaign ended in September 2012 and raised $41 million, exceeding its goal. The campaign funded two academic buildings: the School of Business Building and the Wheatley Center, which is home to the School of Communications and Information Systems. The campaign also helped to boost RMU’s endowment by more than 60 percent and allowed the University to fund 30 new endowed scholarships and a research center focused on achievement among African American men. Most recently, the University broke ground on its new building for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences that is expected to open in Fall 2015.

Perhaps the greatest symbol of the University’s transformation under Dell’Omo’s leadership is the dramatic increase in the number of students living on campus, from 1,140 in 2005 to 1,990 as of the fall of 2014. Fewer than 40 percent of full-time undergraduates lived on campus in 2005, versus nearly 60 percent today.

At the same time, full-time undergraduate enrollment has grown 35 percent, from 2,928 10 years ago to 3,968 in Fall 2014. Total enrollment for Fall 2014 was 5,359.

The University also built two new apartment-style residence halls and converted a nearby hotel to student housing. RMU's transformation to a residential campus is reflected in new campus housing, but also in the increased emphasis on student engagement and campus life that is at the heart of Dell’Omo’s legacy. The Student Engagement Program includes the Student Engagement Transcript (SET), which the University instituted in 2008.

Dell’Omo built on RMU’s long tradition of educating nontraditional students and working adults, bringing the University into a new age with the launch of its online degree programs. In just three years, online enrollment has climbed to 709 students. Robert Morris has also supported veterans of the U.S. armed services, becoming one of the first private institutions to participate in the federal Yellow Ribbon Program. Under that program, RMU agrees to cover the difference between the cost of tuition and benefits that eligible veterans receive under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. Currently 242 veterans and active-duty military personnel are enrolled at Robert Morris.

Dell’Omo also sought to bolster RMU’s academic reputation, and during his tenure the University has strengthened its honors program and placed an increasing emphasis on international education. Among the accreditations and honors that RMU has added since 2005 is AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a distinction enjoyed by only 5 percent of business schools worldwide. RMU also is one of only 25 institutions worldwide to be named a Center of Actuarial Excellence for its actuarial science program.

During Dell’Omo’s tenure, several of RMU’s NCAA Division I sports teams enjoyed unprecedented success. The men’s and women’s basketball teams, for example, each earned berths to the NCAA tournament (with the women going twice), and the men’s team knocked off No. 1 seeds at the NIT two years in a row. Last year, the Colonials men’s ice hockey team earned its first bid to the NCAA tournament, and in 2012 the women’s ice hockey team won the College Hockey America tournament championship. RMU student athletes also excel in the classroom, with an average graduation rate that is 10 percentage points higher than the national average for Division I athletes.

Returning to his home state of New Jersey, where he will be closer to his extended family, was an important factor in Dell’Omo’s decision to accept the presidency at Rider University.

“The Rider opportunity is an exciting one, but this was still a very difficult choice,” said RMU President Gregory Dell’Omo. “The progress and achievements that we’ve made over the past 10 years are gratifying for all of us, and I only see an upward trajectory continuing at RMU in the years to come.

 “In a way, the Dell’Omo family will always remain part of the RMU community, since both my youngest son, Vincent, and my wife, Polly, are RMU alumni, earning a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s in instructional leadership, respectively.”