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China to buy America’s top choir college?

November 6, 2017 by norman lebrecht

10 comments.


The word going round is that a group of Chinese investors is seeking to buy Westminster Choir College, which Rider University’s president wants to evict from his campus.

The College is America’s foremost choir training faculty.

The staff were last week served with layoff notices.

The College might well be safer in Chinese hands, given that its American host has lost all interest.

 


Comments (10)

  1. Tom Moore says:

    do the investors intend to continue to operate the property as a choir college??

    1. Steven Holloway says:

      I so very much doubt it. I think NL very much misconstrued this “word going round”.

  2. boringfileclerk says:

    I hear they can buy the college for a song!

  3. NYMike says:

    The Westminster Choir School annually provides the chorus for the Philadelphia, NY Philharmonic and NJ Symphony orchestras for symphonic works requiring chorus. Certainly both a travesty and a tragedy.

    From a Princeton Paper:

    Rider University sends layoff notices to entire teaching staff at Westminster Choir College

    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.

  4. Phil B says:

    The College may have a faculty but I don’t see how it can BE one.

    1. MWnyc says:

      In the context of a university, “faculty” is British for “department”.

      1. MWnyc says:

        And, in a sense, Westminster Choir College is Rider University’s Department of Music Performance.

  5. Robert Holmén says:

    There has been noticed in the past that many investments in the US by China are ultimately efforts by wealthy Chinese to get money out of their country.

    I don’t know that that is the case here.

  6. Cyril Blair says:

    They probably want to buy it for the property in Princeton, where property is very scarce. Then they’ll disband the Choir College and the Conservatory of Music and redevelop the property.

  7. Alexander Platt says:

    Why can’t Princeton University take over the Westminster Choir College? The obvious thing to do, esp. as Princeton has always lagged behind Harvard and Yale in supporting classical music.


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