WCC sale rumors create confusion

By Lauren Lavelle

An announcement regarding the sale of Westminster Choir College (WCC) may linger on the horizon as rumors swirl of the potential international buyer’s identity.

Matt Koller, ’96, said in a blog on the Coalition to Save WCC in Princeton website that the purchaser of the choral school may be the Guanghua Education Group, a for-profit international education institution based in China that specializes in bilingual schools and language training.

This comes after President Gregory Dell’Omo’s recent trip to China from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1.

According to university spokesperson Kristine Brown, Dell’Omo was attending the 25th anniversary of Sanda University in Shanghai during his visit.

Koller’s statement also claimed Dell’Omo and Dean of the Westminster College of the Arts Marshall Onofrio were seen touring a group of Chinese investors around the Princeton campus on Oct. 3, stirring up controversy.

Brown confirmed that there were visitors at Westminster, but said they were not representatives of the Guanghua Education Group.

“There were guests on WCC’s campus earlier this week, which is not unusual,” she said. “Members of our administration frequently tour guests on campus.”

Dell’Omo potentially choosing a for-profit corporation has been at the root of a growing debate as Rider has strictly been a not-for-profit institution since 1937.

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released a statement on Oct. 5 regarding the potential impending transaction.

“This action is unprecedented in not-for-profit higher education where most senior administrators recognize the difference between a for-profit business enterprise and the ethical and moral role of a not-for-profit educational institution,” the AAUP Executive Committee said.

Rider’s administration continues to remain tight-lipped about the investment process and has not officially revealed the name of the potential partner.

“We understand how eager everyone is to learn more about the future of Westminster Choir College,” Brown said. “However, we must maintain confidentiality to allow this process to progress with integrity, and therefore we are not disclosing specific details at this time.”

During an Westminster AAUP faculty meeting on Oct. 9, members presented demands they believe should be upheld if the international partnership is underway.

They requested the buyer respect Princeton professors’ involvement and understand the faculty works as a team and will continue to do so no matter the outcome.

They also expressed concern over the two-year accreditation process for WCC that needs to be completed within the next four months. According to Onofrio, the buyer has not taken the necessary steps to complete the process in a timely manner.

“Accreditation cannot move forward without the support of Westminster’s faculty and we will not participate in such a process without knowing who the buyer is and having our voices heard through collective representation,” the AAUP  said.

As for the morale on the Princeton campus, students are keeping their heads held high in the wake of the rumors.

“We’re all really excited for the new chapter,” said senior music education major Justin Farrell. “We’re all obviously a little wary because we don’t know what is coming next but, in this moment, I think everyone is trying to finish up their degree and continue with the academic success we’ve already had.”

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