By Lauren Minore
In the midst of the sale of Westminster Choir College (WCC) to Kaiwen Education, six New Jersey assemblymen have proposed legislation in opposition of the transaction that would sell the educational institution to a company they fear is tightly entwined with the communist Chinese government.
“This concurrent resolution opposes the sale of Westminster Choir College by Rider to Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology (Kaiwen Education) because the proposed sale of the choir college to a Chinese government-owned company could jeopardize the security of United States citizens,” stated New Jersey Assembly Concurrent Resolution 222, which was introduced March 5.
Assemblyman Harold J. Wirths of the 24th Legislative District is listed as the sponsor of the resolution. Assemblymen Parker Space, John DiMaio, Erik Peterson, Robert Auth and Kevin Rooney are co-sponsors.
Michael Brogan, American Association of University Professors president, said the resolution not only demonstrates broad opposition to the sale, but also alienates important groups of stakeholders for the university.
“While the resolution does not have the force of law, it does, however, indicate that [President Gregory] Dell’Omo’s attempted sale of WCC to a failed steel bridge company and Chinese defense contractor is opposed by important stakeholders beyond Rider,” Brogan said.
Kristine Brown, associate vice president for university marketing and communications, said that after a comprehensive process which concluded in February 2018, the university determined that Kaiwen would be the best partner to achieve the stated goals of preserving and enhancing the Westminster brand, mission and history.
While the sale remains pending, the university is facing multiple lawsuits.
According to Brogan, an attempt by Dell’Omo to have the Westminster Foundation suit dismissed was rejected by the court on Jan. 15.
Brown said, “We are diligently taking the required steps to close this transaction and to ensure that the transition will be as smooth as possible for everyone. To that end, Rider and Kaiwen are working closely with all the required regulatory and legal authorities, at both the state and federal levels, as well as with the appropriate higher education accreditation organizations.”
Brogan, however, remains firm in his sentiment that the sale will ultimately not be completed.
“It is becoming increasingly clear this deal is not going to happen, the only person who can’t admit this fact is Greg Dell’Omo. Kaiwen is not going to buy WCC,” Brogan said. “Dell’Omo is being sued by the Westminster Foundation and Princeton Theological Seminary, and this illegal sale is being investigated by the New Jersey Attorney General. It’s time for Greg to change his plans in order to save wasting a ton of student money on this failed endeavor. Westminster Choir College makes Rider stronger, Greg’s failure in attempting to sell WCC to Kaiwen only hurts Rider.”