Hopewell couple donates $1 million to Rider University for gym renovations

Hopewell Township residents Chuck and Isabel Baker have made a $1 million donation to Rider University to renovate the gym at the school.

The money will be used for the replacement and expansion of chairback seating on one side of the court and the installation of new bleachers and a row of courtside seats on the other side. Walkway tunnels will also be added behind both seating sections to improve the flow into and out of the gym and create better sightlines for people who are already seated.

Work on the renovations began at the end of April. Previously, a practice facility, new flooring, new lighting, a new sound system, a video board, upgraded locker rooms, team meeting and film rooms, and new coaches’ offices were added.

The renovation project comes at a time when the school has had to freeze salaries, make cuts, and lay off staff for the summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rider officials are continuing a campaign to raise additional funds for other improvements to the facility. School officials said while past upgrades were necessary for the athletic programs that use the facility, the current renovations are deemed important for supporters of those programs.

“This is all for the fans,” says Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo of the current project, part of an ongoing effort of athletic improvements. “We look forward to the resumption of competition, and when that happens, we will be ready with these extraordinary new surroundings.”

The Bakers are long-time Rider men’s basketball season ticket holders. Chuck Baker worked in the pharmaceutical industry, and Isabel Baker is a retired assistant professor of college reading at Rider who now works as a tutor in the University’s Academic Student Success Center.

“We know that these improvements will make significant and positive changes to the inside of Alumni Gym,” Isabel Baker said. “We can’t wait until we can all be back together again to cheer on our student-athletes.”

Future plans for the arena call for a new lobby, new ticketing and concession areas, additional bathrooms, an additional expanded seating section along the baseline and arena corners, an entertainment suite, and a center-hung scoreboard with a digital display giving the facility an arena setting. Officials also want to expand the sports medicine area and add a new strength and conditioning center behind the practice facility.


  1. I’m speechless. This sums up where Rider is in the world of education. Rider probably won’t exist in a few years as they in a very precarious financial position. Instead of shoring up their very real needs on the academic side, they are going to use money for new athletic seats, when the whole program will soon be gone.

    1. The donors choose what their donation goes toward. They picked athletics.

      1. As a former Rider Trustee, I did plenty of thinking and resigned from that group of clowns. It would be nice if Dell’Omo started thinking but may not be in his bandwith. Look what he did to Robert Morris?

        1. Rider Trustee: Excellent comment. I spent the better part of 40 years at Westminster. As a single parent, it was hard. Hard hard to make on the nonsensically bad salary. But I was willing todo it for a number of complicated reasons, but I was willing to do it because there, I was able to put into effect some of my William James, Dappho of Lesbos, and others’ ideas of education and because it was a unique, unconventional institution that was outstanding. There is and never will be an institution in what it did, with limited moral support from the town and the University. I sacrificed. Many others sacrificed. But I admire you, if you continue to support the present Administration, you will all lose.

      2. And Rider could have said no thank you, we have more pressing places to spend the money.

      3. That’s exactly the problem. The other people commenting are thinking. The THINK BEFORE YOU COMMENT comment bears all the earmarks of the usual consortium of “the boys,” the people trusted by the manipulators who ruin everything in the end precisely because they can’t think—can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. In the end, they ruin everything. All my life, I have been against them, a dangerous business. In this case, they’re destroying Westminster, and apparently the whole school as well. By the way, I checked the internet for substantive courses needed to major in music (including Westminster). There were none. By deceit and mendacity, they are going to mislead the students and then destroy Westminster because there was a “significant falloff” in student registration for courses in music. The Westminster faculty who have gone along with this scam are shameful.

    2. Why is it that people in power who are in the process of forcing down the throats of their constituency something they hate always refer to themselves as “we.” One of two reasons, that everyone is of one mind or the President of a College has been elevated to the level of an emperor, neither one is true of Mr. Dell’Omo. There’s another president like this who would rather bring down the whole country, if he knew what it was and stood for, than to be wrong.

  2. If Rider had any ethics – since they are teetering on the brink of collapse – they would have accepted the gift with the provision that the gift would be returned since construction would not begin until after Covid-19 had passed. Do they not realize “the fans” cannot attend sporting events and we don’t know when they can – so, what’s the rush? The school may be closed before “the fans” get to a game. Another example of Dell’Omo and his gang not dealing in fiscal or worldly reality = DENIAL = SILENCE.

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