Faculty members at Westminster Choir College are balking after they say they learned a proposed buyer of the college is in fact a for-profit company running K-12 schools in Asia that has no higher education experience.
Rider University is seeking to sell Westminster as it faces budget difficulties, announcing in August that it had found a possible international buyer that would keep the choir college on its beloved campus in Princeton, N.J. But the university has not shared the name of that buyer.
Westminster faculty are now demanding to know its identity. They also want to participate in decisions about the college's future. They worry that the choir college is accredited through Rider and would have to earn its own accreditation on a short timeline if sold. They plan a teach-in on Monday as a demonstration of solidarity.
Rider faces a lawsuit from alumni, students, parents and former trustees arguing that Rider violated a merger agreement that brought Westminster into the university in the early 1990s.
“We were asked to trust that [Rider] President [Gregory] Dell’Omo has Westminster’s best interest in mind,” said Joel Phillips, a Westminster professor, in a statement. “But how can we trust someone who's already violated his legal and moral obligation of stewardship by selling Westminster in the first place?”
Rider cannot disclose specific details about the buyer "for reasons of confidentiality" and to allow the process to progress with integrity, according to a university spokeswoman, Kristine Brown.
"It is dispiriting that certain individuals and parties are working to undermine the goal of successfully transitioning the college to a new partner committed to keeping the institution in Princeton as a world-class choir college and investing in its future," she said in a statement. "Actions contrary to this goal are harmful, and could potentially prevent achieving the objective of a strong and secure future for Westminster."