Meet President Riordan

Adelphi's 10th President is an internationally recognized expert in leadership development, diversity and inclusion, and team performance.

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Meet President Riordan

An internationally recognized expert in leadership development, diversity and inclusion and team performance.
» Biography» Photos

Message from the President

Thursday, July 7, 2017

Is the magic number 21? At our university, small classes and a personalized approach change lives.

What makes for great learning outcomes in higher education? Better teaching? Newer technology? For Adelphi, it is often something more quantifiable—small classrooms. Adelphi’s average class is just 21 students, with far fewer in graduate classes. One of our M.B.A. students from Nigeria, Chukwuma Ochu, put this advantage most succinctly: “In a small class, I am heard.”

Being heard is an important part of high-impact learning—just listening in a lecture hall is a very different experience. A recent study, the College Educational Quality project,* researched two selective, midsize research institutions, one public, the other private. Researchers concluded that classes with discussions and in-class activities, with 25 students or fewer, were associated with significantly more academic rigor and teaching quality.

I am struck by the growing size of lecture halls in many universities today; a class of 250 students is not at all unusual for introductory 100-level courses. I have heard numbers as high as 700 students—held, by necessity, in that university’s performing arts center. And, even more remarkable, some larger universities are beginning to require that all their introductory-level courses be taken as online options only.

The debate rages on about the effectiveness of the large lecture hall. To some students, hearing a brilliant lecturer creates a great learning experience. But for our students in the arts, our research-driven students, our first-generation students—from top performers to those who need extra support to stay ahead—Adelphi chooses a different path. Our students walk into classes where everyone, including the professor, is likely to know their name.

That means our Performing Arts Center is a place where you can catch the 20th-anniversary production of Rent, written by Adelphi Class of ’81 alum Jonathan Larson, or see a performance by the Taylor 2 Dance Company, but you won’t hear a Biology 101 lecture. And that’s fine with us.

All the best, 
Signed by Dr. Riordan
Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D.

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