By Brandon Scalea
Another organization is taking legal action against the university for its impending sale of Westminster Choir College (WCC), according to local reports.
The Princeton Theological Seminary has filed a suit against Rider, citing a broken 80-year-old promise made by the original donor of the land, Planet Princeton reported.
The lawsuit alleges that the seminary was supposed to be the beneficiary of the 23-acre campus in the event that Westminster stopped operating as a choir college. In the 1930s, a landowner donated the property to the music school assuming this contract would be fulfilled.
Even after WCC merged with Rider in the 1990s, the seminary was part of the legal process behind it, the lawsuit said.
Now, as the university plansto sell WCC to an undisclosed partner, the seminary plans to push back in New Jersey Superior Court.
“We have repeatedly attempted to engage Rider on these issues as news of the proposed sale emerged, but we have been kept at arm’s length,” said Craig Barnes, the seminary’s president. “We don’t take this legal action lightly, but we have no choice but to ask the court to intervene.”
In response to the lawsuit, university spokeswoman Kristine Brown said, “We have been in conversations with the seminary for approximately a year in regards to their note and mortgage on the Westminster property. We are disappointed they felt the need to file suit at this time, which we believe to be premature.”
Brown added that Rider’s first priority is to find a buyer that will keep WCC operating in Princeton. Once that goal is achieved, the university plans to return to discussions with the seminary to address its demand for a share of the net proceeds, Brown said.
“Rider has supported and sustained Westminster Choir College since 1991, when the seminary declined to do so,” Brown added. “Rider will not allow this lawsuit to derail its efforts to find a new partner to continue running Westminster.”
Rider has also been sued by two other groups of litigants made up of students, parents, alumni and donors.