Westminster Choir College being sold

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John F
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Westminster Choir College being sold

Post by John F » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:45 pm

That's right, sold - lock, stock, and pianos. This could mean the end of the famous and outstanding Westminster Choir, which consists of students at the choir college and has existed for nearly a century. Appalling.

Rider University sends layoff notices to entire teaching staff at Westminster Choir College
November 1, 2017
Krystal Knapp

Westminster Choir College faculty members received layoff notices from Rider University via email yesterday. All of the professors at the world-renowned school will be laid off as of Aug. 31. The layoff notices anticipate the sale of the entire college next spring to an undisclosed buyer, or the school’s potential closure. The potential buyer is described publicly only as an Asian corporation that runs for-profit K-12 schools. The buyer has no accreditation in higher education.

The local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the faculty union, will file a grievance arguing that the layoffs fail to meet contractual requirements, representatives said. The agreement with the union specifies that layoffs can occur only in cases of “financial exigency or the demonstrated financial need to eliminate or curtail programs or courses of instruction to protect the well-being of the university.”

Jeffrey Halpern, a sociology professor who is chief grievance officer for the union, said Rider has no financial emergency. “This year’s independent audited financial statement found a $5.5 million increase in net assets.” he said. He expects the grievance will be referred to arbitration. “Faculty also condemn the secretive nature of a sale process in which they’ve had no voice and that violates the AAUP’s national standards for mergers and acquisitions,” he said. Faculty members said they will be organizing direct actions to protest the administration’s decision.

Rider University President Gregory Dell’Omo announced elimination of faculty positions and programs of study on the main campus in Lawrenceville. The cuts were rescinded after significant faculty concessions followed by further, deeper concessions from faculty in bargaining for the 2017-2020 contract. The faculty gave Dell’Omo a no-confidence vote in the spring.

Last December, school officials announced that the Westminster Choir College property would be sold. School officials said the top priority would be to sell the school to a buyer who would maintain the choir college on the Princeton campus. Two lawsuits have been filed to stop the closure of the school or the sale to a buyer who will not maintain the choir college.

The 23-acre choir college campus has been in downtown Princeton since 1932. The is also the headquarters of the Westminster Conservatory, one of the nation’s largest community music schools. The conservatory provides private music lessons and classes to hundreds of children and adults at five locations across the region.

https://planetprinceton.com/2017/11/01/ ... r-college/
John Francis

jbuck919
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Re: Westminster Choir College being sold

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:22 pm

As John F undoubtedly knows, WCC was independent back at the time I attended Princeton. My college organ teacher James Litton, who went on to better things and became famous in his field, was a professor there. (So once was Carl Weinrich, who resigned from there because they dismissed from the choir an unimportant soprano who got pregnant by another choir member, an important tenor, who was not dismissed.) Then they were taken over by Rider so-called University, a fifth-rate school down the road that used to be called Rider College but joined the name inflation game. Disgusting.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jbuck919
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Re: Westminster Choir College being sold

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:34 pm

Addendum. I contacted my best music major friend, and she is already a member of the Save Westminster group. Every single thing in the following brings back memories such that I am in tears.

https://www.savewestminster.org/

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Westminster Choir College being sold

Post by John F » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:15 am

It's extremely rare for schools or colleges to be bought and sold, except maybe if they are for-profit organizations like any other corporation. However, colleges do sometimes sell a building or other property belonging to them. I wonder whether this is actually a real estate deal, and potential buyers aren't interested in the school as such but only in redeveloping the land beneath its feet.

What hasn't been mentioned in anything I've read online is the role of Princeton University. Surely the choir college must have approached them first, and the merger with Rider College looks like a last resort. Princeton has the resources to acquire the choir college's land and building(s), so why haven't they? And could they now belatedly come to the rescue? Or do they just not care about their neighbor? Maybe John knows.
John Francis

jbuck919
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Re: Westminster Choir College being sold

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:02 am

All I can say, John, is that they were always completely separate institutions, and the Princeton music department has never had a performance major or official performance instruction. (They do have the Naumburg scholarships which pay for lessons, including mine, given by "outsiders.") Except for the engineering school and the Woodrow Wilson school, it has no professional schools at all, unlike Harvard and Yale. WCC is essentially a conservatory. Moving in that direction would be a major step, and I would not be surprised if the music faculty objected to it. There is also the issue of overall academic standards. I imagine that the admissions criteria for WCC and Princeton diverge, and I don't think the already beleaguered Princeton admissions office would want to take on that additional responsibility. Finally, while WCC is within a rather long walking distance, it is not contiguous with the Princeton campus, while everything else is.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Westminster Choir College being sold

Post by John F » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:28 am

OK, I see. Princeton's music department now offers a program in musical performance, but not a degree, only a "certificate."

http://music.princeton.edu/performance- ... ates-music

Harvard has no such thing but nonetheless has graduated quite a few important performing musicians - Leonard Bernstein, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Levin, Alan Gilbert, quite a few other conductors. Some took degrees in music, others didn't, but none in musical performance because Harvard doesn't recognize that as an academic subject. Which of course it isn't.
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John F
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Re: Westminster Choir College being sold

Post by John F » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:05 am

The sale to a Chinese buyer is off.

Westminster Won't Be Sold
Rick Seltzer
July 2, 2019

Rider University has dropped a controversial plan to sell Westminster Choir College to a for-profit company based in China and instead is resuscitating efforts to relocate the choir college.

The decisions, announced Monday, put Rider back where it was at the end of 2016, when students and alumni fought against the idea of relocating Westminster from its own campus in Princeton, N.J., to Rider’s main campus seven miles away in Lawrenceville, N.J. Rider’s administration responded a few months later by taking the unusual step of trying to sell the nonprofit choir college. The sale efforts sparked another round of intense opposition after Rider revealed plans in February 2018 to sell Westminster along with its facilities, campus, programs and endowment for $40 million to Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Co.

“Throughout this process, we have continually sought to preserve and enhance Westminster’s legacy as a world-class institution, and we made every effort to maintain the college in Princeton,” said Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Rider’s president, in a statement. “Given the enormous complexity of the transaction, it became increasingly clear that partnering with an outside entity, even one as well-intentioned as Kaiwen, was not feasible on a viable timeline.”

With the sale scrapped, Rider now plans to operate Westminster in Princeton for the upcoming academic year and then move Westminster to the university’s Lawrenceville campus by September 2020. Operating two separate campuses so close together isn’t financially prudent, according to university leaders.

“The board and the administration appreciate the special connection that Westminster has to Princeton, which is why we went to extraordinary lengths to seek a future based in that community,” said Robert S. Schimek, Rider’s Board of Trustees chair, in a statement. “Now that it is clear that transferring Westminster Choir College to an external partner is not possible, it is our continuing responsibility to enact a plan that serves the best interests of the entire university. It is not financially feasible to allow Westminster to continue on its present course as a separate, fully operational campus seven miles apart from Rider’s Lawrenceville campus.”

The university’s change of plans did not appease those who opposed the sale. They vowed to continue fighting against relocating the choir college from its longtime home in Princeton, arguing that the Lawrenceville campus does not have the facilities necessary to support the choir college. A move by next year would be rushed, they said. Further, they argued it would violate the terms of agreements under which Westminster’s campus was donated to the choir college and under which Westminster merged into Rider in the early 1990s, reiterating some arguments made in lawsuits that have been filed against the university.

“Basically, we’re still in a position where Rider’s actions would severely damage Westminster,” said Bruce Afran, a lawyer representing one group suing Rider, the Westminster Foundation. “It would be destructive of Westminster’s academic mission to dismember it and move it to Lawrenceville. No court is going to allow this.”

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/201 ... rns-campus
John Francis

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