July 26, 2017

Rider President Cites Progress In Sale of Choir College Campus

In a letter to the Rider University community this week, Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo said “great progress” is being made in efforts to sell Westminster Choir College in Princeton, which Rider has owned since 1991 and announced this past spring that it was putting it up for sale. Rider’s campus is located in Lawrenceville.

Rider’s Board of Trustees and PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance have communicated with some 280 possible purchasers, and have received “multiple proposals” from buyers who would either purchase the property and Choir College and keep it in Princeton, acquire the property and relocate the Westminster programs to another location, or simply buy the property.

The first possibility is the only one that is acceptable to The Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton, a group of alumni, faculty, and students who have organized in an effort to keep the college in place. The Coalition filed a lawsuit last month saying that based on the merger agreement between the two schools in 1991, Rider has no legal right to sell the Westminster campus.

Mr. Dell’Omo’s letter reads, “A careful and detailed review of all initial proposals has been completed and select parties have been asked to refine their proposals as we move into the next phase of the process. To allow sufficient time for the Board to fully consider each of these amended proposals, it is likely that a final partner or partners will not ultimately be selected to move forward until the fall.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Dell’Omo wrote, recruitment will begin soon for Westminster’s Class of 2022. “We’ve been extremely encouraged by the tremendous interest we have received and are confident that we will find a partner to take over this world-renowned program,” he continued. “Additionally, we have committed to each potential partner that we will work hand-in-hand with them to ensure a successful transition.”

Bruce Afran, the attorney representing the Coalition, said most of the 280 entities contacted by Rider have not expressed interest in acquiring Westminster. “My understanding is that there is a small number that are interested, and that Rider is attempting to focus on those that have an interest in keeping Westminster where it is, which would be something to explore.”

Mr. Dell’Omo’s letter concludes, “This is an important process and I appreciate the interest that our entire University community has in the future of the Choir College. As I have said before, I will continue to share important updates with you as this process continues.”

“I think they’re trying to reach out,” Mr. Afran said. “I think they’re hoping there can be a solution to this, and we do too. But if not, we are resolute. If they seek to close the campus and transfer its programs or sell the property to a developer, that would be something that would absolutely force us to litigate. We hope it doesn’t come to that.”