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 The cuts were rescinded after significant faculty concessions followed by further, deeper concessions from faculty in bargaining for the 2017-2020 contract.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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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: New York, 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.
John Francis

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