By Theresa Evans
The head of the Westminster Foundation has notified both Rider’s president and the faculty union that her organization is determined to continue the legal battle to halt the proposed sale of the Westminster Choir College (WCC) to a Chinese company.
In a Nov. 2 letter addressed to Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo and a leading officer with Rider’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Constance Fee, president of the Westminster Foundation, said the Rider administration urging the faculty to influence the litigants to withdraw their legal actions would not affect its legal fight to preserve WCC.
Fee assured that her organization would not be influenced by either the faculty’s employment concerns or the administration’s threats to “teach out” and eventually close the school if the sale is not completed. In the letter, Fee further stated that the foundation will still pursue its lawsuits against Rider University and Westminster Choir College Acquisition Corporation (WCCAC).
Fee said, “The Westminster Foundation is fully and completely committed to using appropriate legal measures to protect WCC from the sale to a commercial entity based in Beijing with no higher education experience and that is subject to direct control by an authoritarian government.”
Kristine Brown, associate vice president for university marketing and communications, said that Rider is working toward the continuation of the
transition between WCC and WCCAC to ensure the success of Westminster.
“While lawsuits require our time and attention, they do not dissuade us from moving forward with this transition. We will address legal actions however necessary and continue to work together with WCCAC so that Westminster can realize a successful future,” said Brown.
The Rider administration informed the WCC professors that the lawsuits would prevent job offers and induce layoffs from Kaiwen Education during a Oct. 29 meeting at WCC.
In the letter, Fee expressed grave concerns about Kaiwen’s Chinese ownership.
“Indeed, the U.S. State Department has found that China routinely interferes with and suppresses traditional norms of religious and academic freedom and it has done so both within and without China,” Fee wrote. “To protect Westminster from such a fate, our litigation will be pursued in the courts with complete and full vigor.”
Constance Fee’s letter can be found here.