It’s almost midnight at Westminster Choir College

It’s almost midnight at Westminster Choir College


norman lebrecht

September 23, 2019

The college is being dismantled and the faculty are issuing a final call to action. Delay and it will be too late.

The music ends here.

Call to Action for Westminster Choir College (national release) 9-22-19 

Call to Action for Westminster Choir College 9-22-19
Recently, the Rider University administration announced that it intends to tear Westminster Choir College from its historic home in Princeton, NJ and move it to Rider’s Lawrenceville campus – in less than a year. Westminster’s prestigious programs and its performing ensembles are internationally celebrated. Its community music division, the Westminster Conservatory, serves hundreds of New Jersey residents, and its Continuing Education division is highly successful.

If allowed to proceed, moving Westminster and selling the property will cause the death of the institution and irreparable harm to the Princeton community. There are no adequate facilities in Lawrenceville to house Westminster’s specialized, professional-level programs, nor will there be by August 2020. This poor decision to move comes on the heels of Rider’s failed bid to sell Westminster Choir College to a Chinese firm that seemed to be state-controlled. The move is by unilateral decision of the Board and the administration, with absolutely no input from faculty or other supportive groups, nor has the greater community been involved in determining who or what would occupy a twenty-acre campus in the middle of Princeton.

We believe the following to be true:
● Rider’s president and Board are not good-faith stewards and their role as stewards of Westminster must end.
● The leadership’s claim that Westminster is a substantial drain on University resources was not true prior to the 2017–2019 attempt to sell it, a fact publicly acknowledged by Rider’s president in national and local media.
● The staggering losses suffered during the past three years (around $11 million in lost revenue plus legal expenses, and a 60% decline in Westminster enrollment) are a direct consequence of Rider’s foolish attempt to monetize Westminster. In any other institution, such wastage alone would be cause for removal of senior leadership.

What can you do to save Westminster Choir College?
1. Support the Westminster Foundation ( Unaffiliated
with Rider or Westminster Choir College, the Foundation comprises friends, alumni, and faculty who lead the fight to keep Westminster in Princeton. Rider officials have ignored repeated requests from the Foundation to hold talks about Westminster’s future. 2. Contact Governor Phil Murphy. 609-292-6000. 3. Contact Gregory Dell’Omo, President of Rider University. 609-896-5001 (
Sincerely, Members of the Faculty – Westminster Choir College
Contact: Prof. Elem Eley,


  • Tom Purviance says:

    Thank you for sharing this critical information!!

  • Paul Bempechat says:

    This is more than outrageous; it’s unbridled thuggery. No musical college can function properly with the paltry resources of which Rider disposes. WCC is not only a national institution but a national treasure. Over many decades, the NY Phil and Philadelphia Orchestras have turned to the College’s choirs repeatedly, for performances and major recordings. This MUST be stopped.

    • Andy says:

      Well, welcome to capitalism. The private Rider U doesn’t owe WCC any money. And the more combative noises the college faculty will make, the worst off it will be. There was a time when some out-of the-box creativity could have kept the College in its historic premises. That time is likely gone.

  • Andy says:

    I feel for the Westminster faculty, but when, at the turn of the century, the College sold itself to Rider U, it sealed its fate. The college is not really world-renown and, with its expensive tuition, is not really competitive. The lack of creativity (or care) on the part of the Westminsters’ administrators back in the nineties and even today has clearly doomed the college as we know it. Again, I feel for its faculty, but moving to the less prestigious premises is better than seeing everyone simply fired… Tough.