By Sarah Siock
Despite Rider’s decision to move Westminster Choir College (WCC) to the Lawrenceville campus in 2020, WCC’s Princeton campus is currently not marketed for sale as alumni and students fight the university’s relocation of the choir college in court.
In March 2020, the New Jersey Superior Court granted Rider’s motion to dismiss two lawsuits that challenged the university’s consolidation of WCC. However, an attorney from the Westminster Foundation, which is a group made up of alumni and faculty working to stop the sale or movement of the school, filed appeals on behalf of the alumni and student plaintiffs in October 2020.
Vice President of University Marketing and Communications Kristine Brown said that since the lawsuits are still active, the property is not currently being marketed. For now, the Westminster Foundation is waiting for a court date to be scheduled for arguments before the Appellate Division.
Due to delays and backlogs in the court system that stem from the COVID-19 pandemic, Constance Fee, president of the Westminster Foundation, said the court process is moving slower than anticipated. Fee expects court proceedings to begin early next year but said, “we have no assurance of that.”
“When the Westminster Foundation was established almost five years ago, there was no question that we would face tremendous obstacles and that the journey would be a long and difficult one,” said Fee. “The mission of the foundation is to preserve the legacy and ensure the future of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. We remain committed to our mission, and we will stay the course, work our strategies and keep the lawsuits in place.”
Meanwhile, the Princeton campus is currently still used by the Westminster Conservatory of Music — a branch of WCC that teaches young community students. Classrooms and performance spaces are also being used for recitals and rehearsals. At a faculty town hall on Oct. 28, Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo said the university was, “looking at some mixed opportunities for the community and other areas to make use of the property.”
Brown said the university intends to retain four to five acres of the Princeton campus, but the university is willing to negotiate that amount depending on the buyer. Brown did not disclose the estimated sale of the property and instead said, “23 acres in the heart of Princeton is extremely valuable, but the market ultimately will determine the sale price.”
Rider also faces a third pending lawsuit that was filed by the Princeton Theological Seminary, stating it has beneficiary rights to the Princeton campus. Brown said the discovery process is proceeding for this lawsuit. Brown added that motions for summary judgment are being finalized for argument before the court in early 2022.