"If New York were about to lose Juilliard, we would hear about it so much. We should hear the same thing in New Jersey." - Governor Thomas Kean
Princeton, NJ (PRWEB) June 12, 2017
At a press conference on Friday in Princeton, former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean announced that he has been named Honorary Chairman of the Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton, Inc., and that he strongly supports its efforts to keep the thriving conservatory where it is. “If my voice will be of help, I’m here to help you. If I can help you in any way, I will.” Rider University merged with Westminster Choir College in 1991 and now plans to sell the campus and relocate the school. The Governor added, “My bottom line is this school must not be closed or diminished. It is too important to the state of New Jersey, the people of New Jersey, and to the whole cultural fabric.”
Also speaking at the press conference were Art Taylor, president of the Rider University chapter of the AAUP faculty union, Coalition officers and representatives, Westminster Choir College faculty members, and Coalition legal counsel Bruce Afran.
Mr. Afran said, “My clients are gratified to hear former Gov. Tom Kean, who for 15 years was president of Drew University, speak in the strongest terms against any plan to close Westminster Choir College or its campus. Governor Kean's experience as a president and CEO of a small liberal arts college, in addition to his experience as governor, should send a strong signal to Rider University's administration that they are on a wrong and misguided path if they think they can sell and monetize this nationally known cultural institution.”
Constance Fee, president of the Coalition and moderator of the press conference, remains grateful to Rider University for stepping in and providing assistance when Westminster needed help. “The Choir College is thriving today because of Rider’s help and support. However, Rider now faces its own financial challenges and finds itself between a rock and a hard place. The ill-conceived plan to dismember one of its most profitable assets and relocate some of Westminster’s faculty, students, and programs to another institution, or possibly even close the school so they can then sell the land for profit is the reason why the Coalition came into existence. We have offered alternate solutions and hope to work with Rider to find a better way. It is very important for Rider administration to understand that the Coalition represents a diverse and very large number of stakeholders with a remarkable solidarity of purpose. We stand together, we speak with one voice, and we have one objective. The financial situation Rider currently faces is the ‘hard place.’ The Coalition is the unified ‘rock’ with one singular, well-defined goal.”
Sophomore Mymoena Davids said, “When I was looking for colleges I wanted to find a small university where I could study music. Westminster has such a close knit community, a conservatory atmosphere, and you can tell that the connections you make here at this school you keep forever.”
“There is a merger agreement that says very clearly Rider must operate Westminster unless it is mutually, substantially adverse to both institutions," stated Afran So it would be very difficult for Rider to justify a sale that closes the school.
“This is one of the best places in the country for what they do.” Gov. Kean added, “If New York were about to lose Juilliard, we would hear about it so much. We should hear the same thing in New Jersey.”
The Coalition was organized in December 2016 after Rider announced that it was considering moving a limited number of Westminster’s music programs to its Lawrenceville campus, and selling the Choir College’s historic campus in Princeton to cover Rider’s anticipated budget deficits during the next few years. This proposed action was opposed by the Coalition as it would have resulted in the effective dismemberment of the historic music college.
The Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton, Inc.
The mission of the Coalition is to keep Westminster Choir College of Rider University at its current location in Princeton, New Jersey. Both Westminster’s international stature and world-class reputation, as well as its rigorous, residential conservatory experience are uniquely tied to its historic Princeton campus.