Frequently Asked Questions
Update May 1, 2018
Below are responses to questions from the Westminster Choir College Alumni Council.
When will Kaiwen Academy’s vision and mission statement and long-range strategic plan be available for this newly formed enterprise?
Kaiwen Education’s mission is to sustain and grow Westminster Choir College’s reputation as a world-class institution, while maintaining it as an artistically pre-eminent, academically rigorous, and fiscally sound institution.
Kaiwen Education has committed to substantially maintaining the historical programs of Westminster Choir College. Project Manager Larry Livingston is working with Dean Marshall Onofrio on a comprehensive review of the current programs, financial structure, and potential for new curricula that will capitalize on the reputation and resources of the College. Once the College governance structure is set, deeper work will begin on a long-range strategic plan – one that will include programs, financial planning, branding, and efforts to ensure a solid foundation for the future. This work has begun and is likely to take all of the 2018-19 academic year to finalize. The goal is to have a Strategic Plan in place at the time the transition takes place.
How do they plan to increase enrollment?
As announced in the March forum sessions, part of the plan is to enroll between 10-15% international students (total international enrollment = 40-60). Some, perhaps the majority, will come from China; efforts toward revitalizing former enrollment pipelines from South Korea, Hong Kong, and Europe will occur simultaneously. Possible summer and fall 2018 programs, both here and in China, are designed to attract new students.
Both Kaiwen Education and Rider realize that the completion of the binding agreement at the earliest possible date will be crucial to recruiting a class for fall 2018 and fall 2019. Both entities also realize that completion of all necessary licenses and accreditations will be critical to providing financial aid to all returning and incoming students. Westminster’s administrative team continues to work with the Admissions team to prepare for a robust fall 2018 recruitment campaign.
In creating the new website for an independent Westminster, attention already is being paid to how programs are presented. The potential success of particular new programs is an important part of the discussions that will culminate in a Strategic Plan. Such discussions will involve the faculty and admissions personnel. As new faculty are hired, those with expertise in current and evolving programs will be important considerations. Such new programs will be part of an effort to return the total undergraduate and graduate enrollment to approximately 435-450, with an ultimate enrollment goal of at least 500 students.
Will tuition increase or decrease?
This is unknown at this time, as the future budget is still under construction. The 2018-19 tuition ($42,120) is lower than Eastman, Juilliard, New England and Oberlin; it is comparable to Ithaca and the San Francisco Conservatory. The final decision for future years will be based upon review of the entire tuition-financial aid structure and will be deeply rooted in making it possible to offer students a Westminster education while sustaining the College.
Will admission and audition requirements remain at the same high standards currently in place?
Kaiwen Education understands the rigorous admission and audition requirements that historically have created and maintained the reputation of Westminster and its students. Westminster Choir College and Kaiwen Education expect to continue recruiting and admitting the most talented and academically gifted musicians and students. Westminster will maintain control over its academic and artistic requirements and standards.
How much influence will the new enterprise have on what can be taught and on what repertoire studied and performed?
Westminster will be operated by a new, non-profit organization, incorporated in New Jersey and thus subject to all New Jersey state and United States federal laws. An initial seven-person Board of Trustees will be charged with operating the College. Maintenance, evolution, and enhancement of the curriculum will continue to begin with the faculty. There is no intention to control subject matter, repertoire, or other items normally overseen by the academic governance process.
How will curriculum be affected? Will Kaiwen Academy expect Westminster students to take courses in Mandarin and study Chinese culture?
As stated in the previous answer, the curriculum will be maintained through the academic process. There will be no requirement to study Mandarin or Chinese culture. Discussions already are occurring about how to enhance Westminster’s existing efforts to assist international students with their ESL needs, adjusting to Westminster, etc.
The programs in Sacred Music and Organ have been central to Westminster since the beginning of the school. Is Kaiwen Education committed to supporting and continuing these programs?
Kaiwen Education is committed to providing support for these programs while considering whether they remain viable and affordable. In fact, Kaiwen Education already has begun to explore new markets and find new demands for the Sacred Music and Organ programs. To that end, Kaiwen Education is working with Dean Onofrio to create a summer 2018 “Sacred Music Encounter” for perhaps 40 adults involved with Sacred Music in China. Initially to be offered at Westminster, future programs of this nature might involve bringing faculty and artists to China for workshops, to provide pedagogical training for Chinese church musicians and choral conductors.
Organ study in the United States is a great challenge, due to demographics, the decrease in the number of secondary students studying or interested in organ performance and the decrease in the number of organ positions in churches and communities, etc. As part of the overall plan for the curriculum, Larry Livingston will work with the Conducting, Organ, and Sacred Music Department, and Dean Onofrio on a plan to address this challenge and develop an appropriate timetable for such an effort. Dean Onofrio is working with the department to initiate a Visiting Artist program for 2018-19, through which national figures in organ pedagogy and performance will visit the campus.
We’ve been promised that millions will be invested in campus facilities. What is the plan for how those funds will be invested?
To more correctly describe such funding, Kaiwen Education will be investing a significant sum over five years to address both operating and capital funding needs. The Strategic Plan will address both deferred maintenance and the need for facilities and equipment to support current and new programs.
Nothing was mentioned about franchising the Conservatory and Continuing Education programs.
Kaiwen Education is studying the possibility of moving those operations into a for-profit status. That decision will be based on the opportunity to expand the current central New Jersey operation and possibly to franchise curricular offerings in remote locations. The very large number of students in China studying music offers an opportunity for these operations to provide education, training for teachers in China, online delivery of courses and activities, etc. It also is wise to acknowledge that franchising operations is not limited to China.
How will Kaiwen Education sustain WCC as an independent college that makes a profit?
The great majority of United States universities are facing financial challenges and arts schools are all the more affected. The current financial model must be reexamined in light of the smaller size and scope of the operation. It is the hope that careful choices will reduce the deficit and that aggressive fundraising will assist in providing financial support for scholarships, operations, and activities.
This transition will take some time. Westminster Choir College will need to stand on its own solid financial footing as quickly as possible. Westminster leadership will be important contributors to plans to reach financial stability as soon as possible. To this end, continued financial support from Kaiwen Education, alumni, friends, foundations, and corporations will be extremely important.
What are KA’s funding sources and who are they?
The original question referred to KA (Kaiwen Academy). Kaiwen Education, which operates the Academy, has cash on hand. As a listed public company, Kaiwen Education has access to a variety of financial resources, including the capital markets, if necessary. To give an idea, Kaiwen Education afforded and incurred US$138 million and US$131 million in capital expenditures (increase in fixed assets, intangible assets and other long-term assets) in cash in 2017 and 2016, respectively, according to audited financial statements.
As a listed public company, Kaiwen Education’s shareholding structure and all senior management information are publicly disclosed, transparent and always available to the public.
You mentioned Kaiwen Education could have bought any college in the US. What other colleges were being considered and in what locations?
It would be improper to release any information about opportunities other than Westminster. Kaiwen Education’s interest in Westminster Choir College has to do with availability, brand, synergies, and how it fits into a vision to expand its K-12 educational operation into higher education.
We were told Kaiwen Education is buying WCC because of our brand and reputation. If that is the case, why are they considering changing the name?
Kaiwen Education is not considering a name change for Westminster Choir College. While Westminster Choir College remains part of Rider University, Kaiwen Education has chosen to use the name Westminster Choir College Acquisition Co., Ltd. in legal documents forming the new Westminster not-for-profit entity. Upon separation, Kaiwen Education will change the name to use just “Westminster Choir College.”
If the lawsuits “must be resolved before an agreement can be made,” what happens to WCC if this deal is not realized? What other options will be presented?
This answer is from Dean Onofrio: As with any business transaction, the assets must be free and clear of all challenges. If this deal is not closed, Rider University will move quickly to seek an alternate. Failing that, closure of the College is possible.
Can you please explain why only Rider representatives, and no representatives from WCC, were invited to visit Kaiwen Academy last fall?
Rider President Dell’Omo was already scheduled to visit China and Sanda University, with which Rider University has had longstanding academic partnership. His visit to Kaiwen Academy wasn’t a planned part of the WCC transaction; rather, it was a fortuitous opportunity that presented itself, and President Dell’Omo visited to help build the relationship and observe first-hand the extent and quality of the investment Kaiwen Education has made in China. Kaiwen Education welcomes visits from the entire Westminster Community.
We all agree this [the March 4 streamed] forum was long overdue since the Alumni are important stakeholders for the future of the College. There was also no mention of WCC students during this discussion. They are future stakeholders. As alumni, we are very concerned about our students’ well-being and the effect this disruption is having on their education. We hope you will be addressing this.
You may not be aware that there was a session earlier that same day for students. That was one of several meetings convened by Dean Onofrio. He also meets regularly with the WCC Student Government Association’s Executive Committee and visits choirs to provide information and field questions. Students are the most important stakeholders and are very aware of the effect of this transition on them. That is why both Rider and Kaiwen Education have committed to and announced that financial aid will be continued in the aggregate for all returning and new students.
As noted above, there is significant deferred maintenance on the campus. Upgrades that reflect the needs and desires of 21st century students include upgrades to residence halls, academic buildings, and general facilities, all of which are key to our students’ well-being. Kaiwen Education has toured the entire campus and is aware of these needs and will continue to work with Westminster leadership to address these challenges.
We have serious concerns about Kaiwen's very negative financials, their lack of experience in higher education, their ability to sustain and rebuild WCC, their commitment to including the 1991 merger agreement in their terms, and the status of Westminster’s endowment.
Intentional or unintentional misinformation and misreporting has been spread among the Westminster community. The “concerns about Kaiwen Education’s very negative financials” are unfounded. Please be assured the financial condition of Kaiwen Education is strong and sound.
The partner is a listed public entity and discloses its financial statements to the public on a quarterly basis. Its financials are audited by independent accountants and transparent. This information is publicly available for anyone to review and draw their own conclusions.
Based upon its audited 12/31/2017 financial statements, the partner has cash on hand of US$26 million, total debt of US$56 million, thus net debt of US$30 million; and it has total assets of US$498 million, total equity of US$350 million. Its debt/asset ratio is 11%, debt/equity ratio is 16%, net debt/assets ratio is 6%, and net debt/equity ratio is 9%. All these metrics are positive indications of strong and healthy financial conditions.
Although Kaiwen Education is relatively new to K-12 international education, its lack of experience in no way prevents it from building and operating one of the best international schools in an extremely competitive marketplace in China. Kaiwen Education also acknowledges that its experience in higher education is limited, but its leadership is confident it can make the new Westminster a premiere independent school, one that can survive and thrive on its own.
Over its 92-year history, Westminster Choir College has established a much-deserved reputation as a top level School of Music. Unfortunately, it has not been able to function without financial challenge, a circumstance which threatens its capacity to continue operating. Kaiwen Education is confident that its success as a public company and its vision for music education creates a new and unprecedented opportunity for Westminster to grow and flourish, to sustain and elevate its reputation, and to balance its budget.
The success of Kaiwen Education has been largely due to its strategic vision, business acumen, operational dynamics, and adaptation to a constantly changing marketplace, capital management, financial discipline, management, and execution. Kaiwen Education has grown by leveraging all resources available to them and believes that WCC will also need those success factors to survive and thrive.
Kaiwen Education is willing to come together with Westminster’s entire community to learn, and leverage all available resources, expertise and experience. That is why Kaiwen Education did not choose to build a music college from scratch and why they have engaged professional academic and artistic experts such as Mr. Larry Livingston for professional expertise.
As project manager, Mr. Livingston comes with decades of experience in this area and a successful track record of turning around major American music schools facing comparable challenges. He and other partner’s representatives are in constant communication with Dean Onofrio regarding the current operation, opportunities for the future, and issues facing the College.
Kaiwen Education did not enter into this project without recognizing the immense challenges facing Westminster. These include creation of new governance and financial structures; attention to the physical plant; and plans to not just sustain but enhance the brand and visibility of the College. To that end, Kaiwen Education has committed a substantial amount of money to operating and capital needs. Kaiwen Education is already working with WCC leadership to address enrollment and operating stability. Both Rider and Kaiwen Education understand that getting to a formal agreement and completing the transition is very important to changing the perception that Westminster is closing.
Kaiwen Education was not a party to the 1991 merger agreement, and thus cannot comment on that agreement. Since that agreement is part of ongoing litigation, Rider University cannot comment further.
The Westminster endowment will remain with the College. All gifts earmarked for the College until the date of separation will remain with the College. All future gifts to the College will serve Westminster Choir College.
Update February 21, 2018
What is the announcement made by the partner and Rider University on February 21, 2018?
Rider University’s Board of Trustees and Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Co., Ltd, a Chinese firm which owns the Kaiwen Academies, two prominent K-12 international schools in Beijing, jointly announced they have finalized a non-binding term sheet for the transfer of ownership of Westminster Choir College, Westminster Conservatory of Music, and Westminster Continuing Education. This marks the next major step in the University’s comprehensive search to find a party willing to acquire Westminster and keep the Choir College and its entities in Princeton, NJ.
Who is Kaiwen Education? Have they operated an academic institution in the U.S.?
Kaiwen Education owns the Kaiwen Academies, two prominent K-12 schools in Beijing that offer international education from the 1st to 12th grade with a focus in several areas including arts education and sports training. Westminster Choir College will be the first higher education institution that Kaiwen Education will own and operate.
Will Kaiwen Education continue to operate Westminster Choir College as is?
Yes it is their plan to continue to operate Westminster Choir College in Princeton. Kaiwen Education has the resources to make the necessary investment in Westminster with the goal of increasing enrollment and improving financial performance.
What will happen to current faculty, staff and students?
There is still much work to be done to formalize the terms of a binding transfer agreement, however Kaiwen Education intends to make offers of employment to faculty and staff as well as continue committed student aid at the time of closing in the form of endowed scholarships, tuition discounts and other grant obligations. More information will be forthcoming as the entities finalize a binding agreement.
When will the Westminster community get to meet the partner?
The partner looks forward to meeting the Westminster community in the near future. We are working with partner’s representatives to schedule an on-campus visit very soon.
When will the deal be finalized? When will they operate Westminster on their own?
Providing an exact timeline is a challenge, but we are hopeful that a final agreement can be reached soon. We are focused on bringing negotiations to a conclusion, though several important milestones remain.
Will existing scholarships be honored?
Kaiwen intends to continue committed student aid at the time of closing in the form of endowed scholarships, tuition discounts and other grant obligations. More information will be forthcoming as the entities finalize a binding agreement.
Update November 15, 2017
What is the status of the transfer of Westminster Choir College to the new partner?
As of November 15, we continue with the due diligence process. This involves the exchange of questions and information. We are continuing to work on the Term Sheet, a non-binding statement of the basic terms and conditions under which we will proceed to negotiating and drafting the actual agreement.
What benefit does Rider University hope to achieve as a result of divesting WCC?
It is part of the plan that will lead to the transfer of Westminster to a new partner that both Westminster and Rider will have opportunities for growth, will achieve financial stability, and will have the necessary resources to ensure a solid future.
In the event that this transfer does not succeed, what plan is in place to help all students finish their Westminster degree?
All current students at the time such an outcome is reached would be offered the opportunity to complete their degree through Rider University.
What assurances are there that the new partner will a) establish non-profit status, b) obtain state licensure, and c) obtain accreditation? Will these be in place before an agreement is signed?
The partner is aware of all three of these conditions, and more, such as recognition for Title IV and Educational Opportunity Fund programs. The partner already has hired one accreditation consultant, has authorized the hiring of another, and is in the process of interviewing candidates for the position of project manager. These individuals will work with the Westminster administrative team to submit all necessary documentation for these many approvals. At no time, will Westminster be without licensure or accreditation. If the transfer process takes longer than the current academic year, Westminster will remain part of Rider for the next academic year, continuing its approvals as a branch campus of Rider. If the transfer process is able to be completed during this academic year, it will depend upon receipts of all such approvals.
Will any degrees be eliminated? If so, which and when?
The greatest confusion seems to concern the 5-year BM/MAT degree in Music Education. The MAT portion of the degree is under the purview of the College of Education and Human Services. Westminster administrators are in conversation with COEHS to agree on a plan for all students currently in that 5-year program and to discuss possible future partnerships. In the meantime, the Music Education Department is considering other programmatic alternatives. No other degrees are scheduled to be eliminated as part of the transfer.
If all possible transfer transactions fall through and there is a teach-out, what will the remaining students experience in these final years? Will classes be taught on the Princeton or Lawrenceville campus?
If there is teach-out leading to closure of Westminster, classes will be taught at the Princeton campus for 2018-2019. After that, the decision to move students, faculty and classes to the Lawrenceville campus will be based upon the number of continuing students. At this time, it is difficult to predict what the ensemble program will be like, as it will depend upon the number of students, the possibility of external contracts, and the balance of voices. During a teach-out, the number and size of classes, and as a result, the number of faculty, will decrease each year. All students who remain will be offered the appropriate courses to finish their degree. These courses will continue to be taught by both full-time and adjunct faculty.
If a student chooses to transfer to another school and out of pocket costs increase, will Rider cover the cost increase?
If a student chooses to transfer, Rider will not provide any financial assistance. In the event of a teach-out, Rider will continue all financial aid for which the student is eligible.
If Rider offers a teach-out, will students be able to request student loan forgiveness, based on the premise that the experience is not what was offered at the time of matriculation?
If a teach-out is enacted, Rider University will provide an opportunity for students to complete their program of study. Therefore, students would not be eligible for a discharge of their student loans.
Update November 4, 2017
What are the guiding principles for the process of seeking a new partner?
Rider University’s Board of Trustees has determined to evaluate options related to Westminster Choir College (WCC) and the associated campus property, driven by the following Guiding Principles:
- Potential to provide short-term and long-term financial stability for WCC and the University as a whole so both institutions are able to move forward with a high level of quality
- Commitment to preservation and enhancement of the ongoing integrity of the WCC history, brand, mission, artistic standards and programs
- Quality of the potential WCC partner, including its mission, reputation, culture and objectives, and, as possible measures thereof, its student outcomes, accreditations, enrollments, tuition and scholarship structure, performance statistics, endowment and giving record, and financial and programmatic resources
- The likelihood of completion of a transaction with the partner, including financial strength, timing, overall complexity, contingencies and conditions
- The interests of WCC stakeholders, including administration, faculty, staff, students, Coalition / Westminster Leadership Council, alumni and donors
- Strong sale proceeds to provide meaningful new program / facility investments in Lawrenceville to grow Rider enrollments
- Impact on Rider’s mission, reputation, culture and objectives
Updates November 1, 2017
What opportunities may be possible with the new partner?
In conversations to date, our prospective partner has identified several areas with great potential. While we are at the very beginning stages of negotiation and discussion, we believe there is strong interest in pursuing these areas:
- Invest in the facilities and equipment of the college
- Increase the global presence of the college
- Provide international exchanges for faculty and students
- Market Westminster Choir College to an entirely new population of musicians
- Reflect the growing presence of Asia in classical music
- Become competitive with our peers, who are active globally and particularly in Asia
- Funding for new programs
Will the college remain under the name “Westminster Choir College”, and what will become of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts? Will that name be changed to ”Rider University College of the Arts”?
Our potential partner has recognized and spoken to the value of the name and location of Westminster Choir College. We anticipate that it will continue to use that name in operating the Westminster program in Princeton. Decisions about the name “College of the Arts” will be the result of negotiations between the University and the partner
Will students with an anticipated graduation date through May 2021 be guaranteed academic degrees in Music from Westminster Choir College and/or Rider University?
While it is early in our negotiations with the potential partner, the partner has indicated their intention to continue to operate the Choir College under its current name. We anticipate that applications for licensure, accreditation, etc., will be filed under the Choir College name, meaning that degrees will be conferred by Westminster. As long as the Choir College is a part of Rider University, there will be no change in the degree-granting process.
What is involved with the licensure process and the accreditation process for the potential partner?
While this answer is not intended to be exhaustive, here is a brief summary of steps to be completed:
- At the point where Westminster Choir College is completely separated from Rider University, it will have independent status and approval regarding licensure, accreditation, and other processes. With the partner, our mutual goal is to ensure that at no point in time Westminster Choir College is without the appropriate and necessary approvals.
- The partner must incorporate in New Jersey. They have indicated that this will be as a non-profit entity.
- The partner, with Westminster’s assistance, must apply for licensure to offer higher education degrees in the state from the New Jersey Department of Education.
- The partner, with Rider’s assistance, must apply for accreditation. Our mutual goal is to secure accreditation by both the National Association of Schools of Music and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Will the new partner honor existing financial aid packages awarded to currently enrolled students?
The portion of the University endowment that is earmarked for Westminster Choir College will remain with the Choir College. There are legally binding terms for each endowment, including those endowments that support student scholarship awards.
As part of the negotiation process, we will discuss the specific details of financial aid packages. Certain scholarships have academic requirements, such as minimum grade point averages. It is our goal to maintain the opportunity for all students to retain packages for which they are eligible.
Can individuals still contribute to the endowment and annual giving, and if so, is there assurance that such contributions will remain with Westminster?
Rider University/Westminster Choir College is deeply grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have supported WCC in the past and present. We have received several gifts already this year, and each is credited according to the wish of the donor. We ask that all such gifts be specifically identified as a contribution to Westminster Choir College. That donor intent will be honored.
Will all existing faculty members will be offered equivalent positions within the new Westminster Choir College?
Discussions are still in an early phase, but our understanding is that the partner intends to retain all students, faculty, and staff. The specific nature of any such contract offers remains to be determined. As with all such personnel decisions, details of such offers will not be public information.
Will all existing programs be offered by the new partner, including the five-year graduate program for education majors?
Discussions are still in an early phase, but our understanding is that the partner intends to retain all academic programs at this time. Please note that the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) portion of the 4+1 program in Music Education is not a Westminster Choir College program. It is offered and conferred by Rider’s College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) on the Lawrenceville campus. The Music Education Department continues to discuss this matter along with other elements specific to music education in the state of New Jersey. The Dean, Associate Dean, and faculty are working with COEHS regarding completion of the program by all currently enrolled students and the potential for a partnership after separation.
Will the Baccalaureate Honors Program continue at Westminster after the separation?
We are committed to ensuring completion of the program to all currently enrolled students. We also are planning to continue the program. Because the program currently is operated in partnership with the Lawrenceville campus, it is unclear at this time how we will adjust the options for completing the course requirements.
Can students complete major or minor programs offered by Lawrenceville?
We will continue to work with Lawrenceville colleges and schools to permit students to complete already declared programs offered by LAW-based departments and programs. This pertains most directly to students in the B.A. in Music degree, which requires completion of either a minor or concentration. At this time, students in that major may select from programs offered at either campus. We will continue to work with individual students to answer their questions and help them to determine options.
What impact will the new partnership have on the cost-of-attendance?
Decisions about these matters are made by the Board of Trustees at its February meeting. We have shared the current tuition and fee structure with the partner. The decision to set these fees will rest with the governance structure of the new Westminster Choir College once the College is transferred to the new partner. Until then, that decision rests with the Rider University Board of Trustees.
How long will the negotiations/due diligence process take?
While we cannot predict the speed or outcome of the negotiations that will lead to completion of the process, we expect to have more certainty as to the direction of the process in the next few months. We will continue to provide regular updates to the entire Rider/Westminster community along the way.
How will the new partnership affect Westminster Conservatory and Westminster Continuing Education?
Our potential partner has expressed a desire to keep both Westminster Conservatory and Westminster Continuing Education as part of Westminster Choir College. Westminster Conservatory is currently finalizing plans for their special summer programs and will, as usual, offer its full complement of private lessons this summer and into the next academic year.
Westminster Continuing Education has already planned the majority of its summer programming for middle school and high school students as well as for adult learners. As in past summers, Westminster Continuing Education is offering programs on both the Princeton and Lawrenceville campuses, as well as international programs in Oxford, Vienna and Florence.
Rider University’s Board of Trustees Aug. 17, 2017, Announcement
What did the Board of Trustees announce on Aug.17, 2017?
The Board selected as its finalist a potential international partner that has proposed to acquire Westminster Choir College and maintain the campus in Princeton. The Board will now begin negotiations and due diligence with the selected potential partner. Please know that much work still remains, and as this process moves forward, negotiations will remain confidential.
Will the University reveal the name of the potential international partner?
To ensure the integrity of the process, the University will not be sharing the name of the entity at this time. However, we are pleased to have identified a potential partner who is willing to acquire Westminster Choir College and maintain the campus in Princeton. Once the process is complete, we will announce the name of the partner.
How long will the negotiations/due diligence process take?
At this point, it is difficult to determine a timeframe for the complicated negotiations and due diligence process. But the identification of a potential partner who is willing to acquire Westminster Choir College and maintain the campus in Princeton is an important step in the process.
Rider University’s Board of Trustees March 28, 2017, Announcement
What did the Board of Trustees announce on March 28, 2017?
After commissioning a months-long study that incorporated community input and concerns, the Rider University Board of Trustees today announced a decision on the future of Westminster Choir College (Westminster). Specifically, the Board concluded that the strategic goals of the University will neither be achieved by keeping Westminster at its current location in Princeton, nor by consolidating Westminster onto the Lawrenceville campus.
Why does Rider need to make these changes?
Rider University is determined to eliminate its existing deficit and focus its resources on high quality academic programs and other important aspects of the student experience in order to accelerate the pace of reinvestment in the University. Like many other institutions of higher education, we face our share of challenges, but we are confident that the changes being implemented will help deliver on Rider’s promise for a bright future.
Who made this decision?
This was ultimately a decision made by the Board of Trustees.
I thought the University was only considering moving Westminster to Lawrenceville. Why did the Westminster Special Committee (WSC) and the Board decide to expand its scope? Why wasn’t that decision made public?
Over the course of the study, all options were reviewed and considered. The WSC determined it was both appropriate and necessary to include an analysis of the issues confronting Rider University beyond Westminster and a range of solutions that might best benefit Westminster and the broader University. However, it became clear that continuing to operate on two campuses would not allow Rider to eliminate deficits or make meaningful investments in its future. In addition, the WSC concluded that moving the Westminster programs to Lawrenceville would not provide the high-quality experience that students and other constituents desired.
Is the option of moving Westminster onto the Lawrenceville campus still on the table? Why not?
Rider University is determined to eliminate its existing deficit and focus its resources on high quality academic programs and other important aspects of the student experience in order to accelerate the pace of reinvestment in the University. The WSC determined that neither keeping Westminster at its current location in Princeton as part of Rider, nor consolidating Westminster onto the Lawrenceville campus would achieve these strategic goals.
Westminster Choir College’s legacy can be best achieved by identifying an institution that is better positioned to make necessary investments in and build upon the school’s world-class curriculum. With the help of an outside firm, the University will be seeking an institution to purchase the campus and operate the Westminster programs in Princeton or to acquire and relocate Westminster’s programs. That process is expected to take place over the next 12 months.
I am a student at Westminster. Will I be able to graduate from Westminster?
Westminster hopes to continue offering classes on the Princeton campus. Once an institution to acquire Westminster is identified, we will work closely with that institution to determine when students will begin to take Westminster courses from that college or university. These courses could be offered at the Princeton campus or they could be offered on the campus of the new institution.
Will I lose my job as a professor?
No, there will be no layoffs as part of this announcement. Our faculty remain an integral part of Westminster and will be a key factor in the search for an institution to acquire the college. As more information becomes available, we will be working closely with any affected faculty.
Will there be layoffs of University staff?
No, there will be no layoffs as part of this announcement.
Were community members asked/informed of this decision before the announcement?
Yes. The WSC’s analysis was comprehensive and accounted for the input received from faculty, staff, students, alumni and other members of the campus community.
Will the University be providing updates on its progress? Where can I find more information?
This website, www.rider.edu/wccupdate, has been created to keep the community informed of any updates and includes some answers to potential questions. We will be providing regular updates on our progress. We know there will be questions, and, over the coming months, we are committed to working closely with our students, faculty and staff to provide them with the resources they need to ensure a smooth transition.