August 12, 2020

BEAUTIFUL PEST:  The spotted lanternfly, first seen in New Jersey in 2018, has arrived in Princeton, and its numbers are expected to increase rapidly. The destructive plant-hopper infests a variety of different trees and vines, and excretes a sticky fluid similar to honeydew that creates a sooty, moldy mess.

By Donald Gilpin

Just when you were enjoying spending time outside, socializing with social distancing guidelines in the open air during the pandemic, there’s another threat that might drive you indoors in the coming weeks.

The spotted lanternfly, a moth-like Asian plant hopper with bright red coloring and black spots, has recently been identified in at least six sightings in Princeton as part of Princeton’s BioBlitz. Though it has two pairs of wings, it jumps more than it flies. 

It’s an invasive species, destructive to crops and trees, especially maples, willows, and other smooth bark trees — at least 70 host species.  And spotted lanternflies are extremely annoying pests, according to Bob Dolan, mid-Atlantic territory manager of Rainbow Tree Care Scientific Advancement in Montgomery County, Pa. 

Not yet as pervasive in Princeton as it is in Pennsylvania, the spotted lanternfly was accidentally introduced and confirmed in September 2014 in Berks County before it spread throughout Pennsylvania and into neighboring states.  more

By Donald Gilpin

A virtual forum of more than 20 area elected officials and candidates highlighted Joint Effort (JE) Princeton Safe Streets’  Saturday, August 8 gathering, with speakers sharing their vision of the future as they called for dramatic change with less than three months to go before the critical November elections.

“Our existence, our future, our dreams, and our hopes for generations to come are on the line,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, as she rallied some hundred participants to support Joe Biden and Democrats at all levels on November 3.

Hosted by JE and the Capital City Area Black Caucus (CCABC), the forum, titled “Why the 2020 Election is so Important,” was the penultimate event of more than a week of Joint Effort Safe Streets 2020 events celebrating Black history and culture and the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. 

JE 2020 concluded on  Sunday evening, August 9 with a Cynthia “Chip” Fisher and Romus Broadway Memorial Virtual Art Exhibit-Collage Slideshow and community reception, a  tribute to Romus Broadway, the presentation of awards, the Jim Floyd Memorial Lecture, and a gospel music hour.

In her speech, Watson Coleman emphasized how much — including access to health care, education, housing, jobs, economic equality, and racial justice — is at stake in the upcoming election. 

“This is a time when we’re going to encounter such impediments to getting the vote out that we have to be smart and strategic. We have to be working with one another and we have to be communicating and connecting,” she said. more

By Anne Levin

Princeton University’s announcement last Friday that no undergraduates will be on campus for the fall term marked a reversal of an earlier plan that would have brought students back in shifts. Other area universities have also revealed details about the fall semester, some of which are revisions of previous plans. Rider University announced Tuesday afternoon that it will move to entirely remote instruction for the fall semester.

“With deep regret and sadness, I write to update you about our plans for the fall, and, in particular, to explain why Princeton has decided that its undergraduate program must be fully remote in the coming semester,” Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber wrote in a letter to the campus community. “In brief, the pandemic’s impact in New Jersey has led us to conclude that we cannot provide a genuinely meaningful on-campus experience for our undergraduate students this fall in a manner that is respectful of public health concerns and consistent with state regulations and guidance.”

The University had previously planned to host sophomores and seniors starting late this month, while the classes of 2021 and 2023 would be on campus starting in January of 2021. But with infection rates soaring around the country and nearly two million cases reported over the last month, things changed.

“First, the health risks to the campus and surrounding populations appear greater now than they did just a month ago,” Eisgruber wrote. “Reopening efforts in New Jersey and elsewhere have demonstrated how difficult it is to contain the disease.  Where schools and universities have started to bring back students, COVID cases have rapidly followed.” more

By Anne Levin

Investigation is continuing into the death of a 20-year-old man who jumped to his death Sunday afternoon, August 9, from the roof of the Spring Street Garage.

“The police department is investigating what we believe to be a suicide,” Princeton Police Captain Chris Morgan said at a meeting of Princeton Council Monday night.

Out of respect for the family of the man, who is from West Windsor, no further details have been released, Morgan said. “It raises the question, is there anything more we can do as a town to prevent this? This was the second suicide [from the garage roof] in the past six years, and there have been two other attempts which the police department was able to prevent. So hopefully, in the near future, we can talk about a physical barrier or some type of deterrent that may prevent this in the future.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

When Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out our power last Tuesday morning, I already had Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Herman Melville’s Journal of a Visit to London and the Continent close at hand, along with flashlights, battery-operated lanterns, and a portable CD player. Besides the fact that both writers have sailed similarly stormy seas of thought, I knew we’d be printing on August 12, three days before De Quincey’s August 15th birthday and two weeks after the 201st birthday of Herman Melville, who discovered the Opium Eater on his way to writing Moby-Dick.

Painting in the Dark

When Confessions first appeared in the September 1821 issue of London Magazine, elegantly addressed to the “Courteous Reader,” Melville was 2 years old, a reader in the making who would bond with the book in London shortly before Christmas 1849. A hop, skip, and a virtual jump later, it’s August 2020 and De Quincey’s lighting this grateful reader’s way through the after-midnight darkness of a power outage. Taking occasional breaks from the book, I become an impromptu cinematographer, moving the flashlight beam around the living room, poking holes in the darkness and zooming in on details: the densely shadowed corner of a print from Goya’s Disasters of War; a fragment of winding road on a large Art Nouveau vase; flowered fireplace tiles; the bronze glimmer of the andirons; and above the mantle an oil painting of a night scene by an unknown artist, a firelit shoreline, a boat being unloaded by spectral figures, the scene becoming gloomier, more sinister as the flashlight sweeps over it.

Picking up where I left off in the book, it’s as if De Quincey’s been reading my mind, setting the scene, asking if “the reader is aware” that children have the power of painting phantoms “upon the darkness,” a power that in some is “simply a mechanical affection of the eye” while “others have a voluntary or semi-voluntary power to dismiss or to summon them” (my italics because we were told the power would be restored by now, c’mon PSE&G, give us back our power, power, power!), and after a child informs De Quincey that when he tells the phantoms to go, they go, but that sometimes they come when he doesn’t want them to come, the Opium Eater assures him that he has “as unlimited a command over apparitions as a Roman centurion over his soldiers.” Picturing the confused and by now perhaps terrified child, I’m reminded this is the same man who was found by one of his daughters one evening sitting at his desk with his hair on fire. more

CELEBRATING CULTURE: Christina and Andrés of 123 Andrés are among the performers at the upcoming online festival that gives an in-depth look at the arts in New Brunswick. (Photo by David Rugeles)

On Saturday, August 15 from 3-7 p.m. the inaugural, virtual New Brunswick HEART Festival will be presented by State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick Cultural Center, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), and Above Art Studios. Hosted by New Jersey Radio Hall of Famer Bert Baron and co-founder of CPR Live, Sharon Gordon, the event was created to celebrate the vibrant arts and history that New Brunswick and the County of Middlesex has to offer.

To watch, go to tinyurl.com/NBHEARTFestival.

The online festivities will include music, dance, and spoken word performances; a behind-the-scenes look inside the local theater and visual arts scene; a close-up of Middlesex County’s history; interviews with artists and arts and community leaders; a craft-making session; yoga; and more.

“We are so proud and honored to bring together so many amazing arts and community partners for the first ever New Brunswick HEART festival,” said festival organizers Tracey O’Reggio-Clark from New Brunswick Cultural Center and the Arts Institute of Middlesex County; Kelly Blithe from State Theatre New Jersey; and Dontae Muse from Above Art Studios. “As many arts institutions are struggling during this global pandemic, it is more important than ever to showcase the arts and the profound impact that they have on our lives and our community.” more

BASH FOR DASH: A “Sarah Dash Birthday Bash” will be live-streamed Sunday, August 16 by the Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series.

On August 16 at 8 p.m., the vocalist known as Trenton’s “music ambassador” will give a concert online to celebrate her birthday. Sarah Dash, a Trenton native, was one-third of the group LaBelle, known for the hit single “Lady Marmalade.” In addition to her musical career, she is a motivational speaker, educator, and humanitarian.

As a solo artist, the Grammy Hall of Fame inductee once topped the international dance charts with the song “Sinner Man” and has collaborated with such artists as Nile Rodgers, Sylvester, and The Rolling Stones (appearing on the Stones’ 1989 album Steel Wheels). Dash was also the only female member of Keith Richards’ super group, The X-Pensive Winos. more

BRUSH UP ON YOUR TRIVIA: Drag comedian Pissi Myles is the host for a special Online Trivia Night, sponsored by State Theatre New Jersey, to be held on Wednesday, August 19 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Proceeds raised will support State Theatre’s Community Engagement programs.

On Wednesday, August 19 at 7 p.m., State Theatre New Jersey is hosting 2000s Online Trivia Night via Zoom, with hostess Pissi Myles. Proceeds raised will support State Theatre’s Community Engagement programs. A minimum donation of $5 allows patrons to participate in the trivia challenge.

Hosted by drag comedian Myles, the trivia challenge covers the music, movies, musicals, and pop culture of the early 2000s. The trivia will be composed of 60 multiple-choice questions. The first-place winner gets a $150 State Theatre gift certificate and the second-place winner gets a State Theatre swag bag. more


“THIS TOO SHALL PASS”: This painting by Sarah Bernotas is featured in an exhibition of artwork by Hopewell Valley Arts Council members. “This Too Shall Pass” is on view at the Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn, 15 East Broad Street, through October 29.

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council now presents “This Too Shall Pass,” its annual members show featuring 40+ pieces created during the health crisis. “This Too Shall Pass” highlights local artists’ dive into creativity and reflection during these difficult times.

The artwork will be on display through October 29 at the Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn at 15 East Broad Street, Hopewell. Social distancing and state-mandated safety practices will be in place. For hours and dining inquiries go to hopewellbistro.com.

For more information about the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, visit hvartscouncil.org

ARTSBRIDGE OUTDOOR ART SALE: The annual sale returns on Sunday, August 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Prallsville Mills, 33 Risler Street, in Stockton. The event will be held rain or shine. (Photo by Gary David Fournier)

In this year of cancelations, the annual Artsbridge Outdoor Art Sale returns! Art collectors and art lovers are invited Sunday, August 30, to the Prallsville Mills at 33 Risler Street in Stockton from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., rain or shine. If it rains, the exhibit will be held inside the mill. There is no entry fee. more

This painting by Alayne Sahar is featured in the Garden State Watercolor Society’s 50th Anniversary Juried Exhibition, “Out of the Wild,” which can be viewed online through September 30. The exhibit, in partnership with D&R Greenway Land Trust, is being held in conjunction with a virtual artists’ talk and a family-friendly scavenger hunt. For more information, visit www.gswcs.com or www.drgreenway.org.

AL FRESCO:  “Everyone appreciates the way pedestrian traffic has opened up on Witherspoon Street. People are really enjoying coming together and eating outside. As owners of Olives, we are thankful and grateful for the way the town has allowed us to adapt to these changing times.”  Adam and Nick Angelakis, co-owners of Olives Gourmet Bakery & Deli, along with the Verganelakis family of Colonial Farm in Washington Crossing, look forward to more customers enjoying Olives’ outdoor dining opportunities. Tables are set up outside Olives’ entrance.

By Jean Stratton

The Witherspoon streetscape is now filled with intriguing scenes and scenarios as people enjoy the many outdoor dining opportunities now available. The street’s new traffic pattern has made it possible for more outdoor tables and attractive settings to line the thoroughfare.

Since state rules have prohibited indoor dining because of COVID-19, restaurants have had to adapt and meet the moment with new possibilities.

Olives, the popular Gourmet Bakery & Deli at 22 Witherspoon Street, is one of those that now offers dining al fresco, and co-owners and brothers Adam and Nick Angelakis are pleased with the result, and also that Princeton officials have stepped up to make it happen.

“I want to give credit to Mayor Lempert and the Princeton Council,” says Adam Angelakis. “They worked hard to make outside dining possible, and they have worked closely with the business community.” more

SEEING RED: Doug Davis shouts out instructions in a 2019 game during his tenure as the head coach of the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team. Davis, a former Princeton University men’s hoops star who guided PDS to its first state Prep B title this past winter, is heading down Route 206 to take the helm of the Lawrenceville School boys’ hoops program. He will be succeeding longtime Big Red coach Ron Kane. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Doug Davis knows something about winning titles.

During his career with The Hun School boys’ basketball program, sharpshooting guard Davis helped the Raiders win state Prep A and Mid-Atlantic Prep League championships in 2007.

Going across town to Princeton for college, Davis started from day one with the Tigers and provided one of the greatest highlights in program history, draining a buzzer-beater to beat Harvard an Ivy League championship playoff game in 2011 during his junior season.

Getting into coaching, Davis started at the Berkshire School (Mass.) and then returned to the area to take the helm of the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball program in 2018 and guided the Panthers to the state Prep B title this past winter.

Now, Davis is bringing his championship touch down Route 206 as he recently became the new head coach of the Lawrenceville School boys’ hoops program, succeeding longtime coach Ron Kane.

“I want to be at the top of this league again, that is definitely going to require some buy-in from the players but it is definitely doable with all of the resources that Lawrenceville has,” said Davis, reflecting on his vision for the program that posted a 6-19 record in the 2019-20 campaign.

“It is an amazing place to be. I truly believe that if we set our goals and sights on winning again, we can do it.” more

LION-HEARTED: Ben Amon fires a pitch this spring in his freshman season for The College of New Jersey baseball team. Amon, a former Princeton High standout, posted a 0-1 record in two starts for the Lions, piling up 16 strikeouts in 14 innings with a 3.21 ERA before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo provided courtesy of TCNJ Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

Ben Amon experienced a baptism of fire in his first start on the mound for The College of New Jersey baseball team.

Former Princeton High star Amon gave up five runs in the first inning at Ursinus as he made his college debut on March 4.

“That was 100 percent a great learning experience; I went out in the first inning having the same mindset as in high school ball,” said Amon, reflecting on the rocky start.

“I thought I could just throw my stuff and it will be good enough to get them out. I quickly learned in that first inning that wasn’t going to be the case.”

Settling down after that early barrage which saw Ursinus bang out five hits, including a two-run homer, Amon yielded only two hits and picked up six strikeouts over the next six innings as TCNJ fell 5-3. more

IN THE SWING: Jackson Durbin of the West Windsor Plainsboro Babe Ruth 15-year-old all-star team follows through on a swing last weekend at the Southern New Jersey State tourney. After falling 5-0 to host Hamilton/Northern Burlington last Saturday in its opening game of the double-elimination competition, WWP topped Lawrence 6-0 on Monday. The squad is slated to get a rematch with Hamilton/NB on August 11 with the winner advancing to the championship round against Atlantic Shore on Wednesday. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Andrew Liggio realized that his West Windsor Plainsboro Babe Ruth 15-year-old all-star team was in for a challenge as it faced host Hamilton/Northern Burlington at Switlik Park in the Southern New Jersey State tourney.

“Hamilton is a great team, it is well coached and they have been together for three years,” said WWP manager Liggio.

“They have gone through the states back-to-back years and have played in the Mid-Atlantic tournament. They have everyone back.”

While WWP fell behind 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning, Liggio wasn’t discouraged.

“I liked how the boys came out and played defense,” said Liggio, whose squad includes Princeton residents Jude Blaser, Jackson Durbin, Daniel Harlan, Leyton Shroff, Jonathan Tao, and Jake Zuckerman. “I think our bats were a little sleepy to start.” more

August 8, 2020

Friday, August 7, 2020

Dear Princetonians,

With deep regret and sadness, I write to update you about our plans for the fall, and, in particular, to explain why Princeton has decided that its undergraduate program must be fully remote in the coming semester.  In brief, the pandemic’s impact in New Jersey has led us to conclude that we cannot provide a genuinely meaningful on-campus experience for our undergraduate students this fall in a manner that is respectful of public health concerns and consistent with state regulations and guidance.

 more

August 5, 2020

Despite the heat, children enjoyed some play time and the shade of the tall trees at Marquand Park. People share their favorite summertime memories in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Weronika R. Plohn)

New Jersey was pounded on Tuesday, August 4, by Tropical Storm Isaias, bringing fierce winds, heavy downpours, and two small tornadoes to the Garden State. Here in Princeton, the police department reported that, in the three hours between 11:01 a.m. and 2:01 p.m., there were over 50 trees or limbs down, 22 reports of wires down, and multiple traffic signals out. About 36,000 PSE&G customers were without power by mid-afternoon. This included thousands of local residences and businesses, including the town’s central business district. There was debris on many roadways, and people were urged to stay home, even after the storm subsided in late afternoon.

By Donald Gilpin

“We are not going to be safe against COVID-19 until a vaccine or suitable treatment is available for our population,” warned Princeton Public Health Officer Jeff Grosser earlier this week. With case numbers increasing, Grosser criticized breaches of rules on social gatherings, along with inadequate support for public health systems and failures of many other states to apply lessons learned from the early outbreaks and epidemiological evidence.

Though Grosser noted the progress made locally, he remained less than optimistic. “Princeton has done a tremendous job of moving restaurant dining outside, preparing workplaces for safe business, masking up while outside, preparing our public employees for work amidst a pandemic, etc.,” he said. “The unfortunate certainty of this virus is that it is not just going to go away. All members of our town must act like a cohesive team to root out this virus, which includes holding everyone accountable for the negative and positive effects of our actions.”

The Princeton Health Department on Monday reported four new cases in the past seven days, nine in the past two weeks, with 16 active cases, 207 total positive cases, 160 recovered with isolation completed, 18 COVID-related deaths, and 12 additional probable COVID-related deaths.

Acknowledging that more cases of COVID-19 will appear as state restrictions are lifted, Grosser  expressed growing concern with the high percentage of new Princeton infections, which have been attributed, through contact tracing, to social gatherings. “Through spot checks on portions of town, we know that residents are abiding by public health executive directives, but it’s far too common to find out that new infections are the result of a lack of compliance,” he said.

Grosser pointed out that failure to follow social distancing guidelines and lack of facial coverings, particularly at social gatherings, have sparked a number of recent cases.  The Health Department continues to emphasize the importance of social distancing and masks.

The Princeton Health Department’s “mask ambassador” was on the job on Nassau Street on Saturday afternoon, August 1, handing out about 200 free face masks. Of the 246 people who passed in front of the Princeton Garden Theatre between 3 and 3:30 p.m., 211 (85.77 percent) were wearing a mask. Between 4:30 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, 229 people passed with 149 (65.07 percent) wearing a mask. 

Princeton Press and Media Communications Officer Fred Williams noted that many of the people not wearing masks were in groups of people, family, or friends, and others had taken their masks off while consuming a recently-purchased drink.  The next mask distribution date will be August 11, possibly in Palmer Square. more

By Donald Gilpin

Joint Effort Safe Streets 2020, dedicated to the memory of Romus Broadway, continues into its second week with a virtual forum on Wednesday, August 5 at 6:15 p.m. on “The Future of Princeton and Community Development Hot Topics.”

Featured presenters will include Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter on police-community relations; Chris Foglio Palmer on affordable housing in New Jersey and Princeton; Bob Hillier (a Town Topics shareholder) on the Witherspoon Street corridor; Josh Zinder on Maclean Street, Griggs Corner, and John Street projects; Leighton Newlin on Franklin Avenue and Maple Terrace; and Michelle Pirone Lambros on redevelopment in the shopping center area.

Mayor Liz Lempert, Mercer County Freeholder Andrew Koontz, Princeton Mayoral Candidate Mark Freda, Princeton Council President David Cohen, Councilman Dwaine Williamson, architect and Princeton Future President Kevin Wilkes, Princeton Civil Rights Commission (CRC) member and community nonprofit leader Fern Spruill, Princeton YMCA CEO Kate Bech, Arts Council of Princeton Interim Director Jim Levine, Princeton CRC Chair Thomas Parker, and Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) candidates Jean Durbin and Hendricks Davis will participate as panelists.

“I’m excited about this event because we’re talking about the future of this town,” said Joint Effort Program Coordinator John Bailey. “What will the town look like 20, 30, 40 years from now? I thought it would be important to have a clarifying and therapeutic conversation about affordable housing with people who are considered experts in the field to try to get us all on the same page. All of these issues are about history, the hindsight, what it used to be; the insight, what is the current dynamic; and foresight, what will the town look like going forward?” more

By Anne Levin

It isn’t just that he wants to spend time with his family, which now includes four grandchildren. Barry Rabner, president and CEO of Penn Medicine Princeton Health for the past 18 years — since it was known as Princeton Hospital — is ready for a change.

The medical center announced last week that Rabner, 68, will retire as of January 1, 2021. “It was a combination of things,” he said Monday when asked what steered him toward the decision. “Having the grandchildren was reason enough, because that’s a big part of our life now. But I think it’s just the right time.”

The press release announcing Rabner’s retirement lists the changes, expansions, and accolades that the medical center received during his tenure — recognitions for nursing excellence, designation as a leader in health care equality for those who identify as LGBTQ, the doubling in outpatient capacity at Princeton House Behavioral Health, a five-fold increase in medical staff, partnerships in fitness and wellness, ambulatory surgery, gastroenterology, and a partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, among other achievements.

Perhaps most significant are the design and construction of the new hospital in Plainsboro, which the small hospital on Witherspoon Street moved to in 2012, and the decision to join the University of Pennsylvania Health System in 2018. more

DON’T STOP THE MUSIC: Jacobs Music is hoping to find a new location to continue selling Steinway pianos and hosting recitals by the local music community.

By Anne Levin

Jacobs Music Company is closing its longtime Lawrence store. But all is not lost for area musicians who have purchased pianos and performed in the store’s recital hall for the past few decades. Plans are underway to find a new location.

“The area around us is kind of decaying, and many of our neighbors are leaving,” said Senior Vice President Bob Rinaldi of the store on Brunswick Pike that has sold pianos and hosted recitals since the 1980s. “So we’re thinking to move a few miles north of 95. We don’t know where yet. We’re contacting agents now.”

In the meantime, a store-closing sale is underway, by appointment only. Jacobs Music is the exclusive dealer representative in the area for new, pre-owned, and factory-restored pianos made by Steinway & Sons at their factory in Queens, N.Y. The Lawrence store is a branch of the main Jacobs location in Philadelphia, which was established in 1900. Other branches are in Cherry Hill and Shrewsbury; and in West Chester, Doylestown, and Ephrata, Pa.

The pandemic is a major reason for the closure. “It’s not easy as a retailer to pay rent when there’s no revenue being generated,” said Rinaldi. “The thought is, why pay rent if it’s not going to be a great environment in the fall?” more

By Donald Gilpin

Community policing, public safety, police violence, defunding the police in the context of the fight for Black lives, and hopes for Princeton’s future were all topics up for discussion in a July 26 dialogue between Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter. Lempert will be stepping down as mayor at the end of the year after her second term (eight years) in office, and Sutter will retire on October 1 of this year after 25 years of serving the community, the last six as police chief.

In a 90-minute virtual conversation sponsored by the Princeton Civil Rights Commission, moderated by Councilwoman Leticia Fraga, and attended by about 80 participants, Sutter emphasized the importance of change in policing and in the Princeton Police Department (PPD).

“I embrace change,” he said. “Our department and its culture embrace change. More departments nationally should do that. A culture in a police department that embraces and accepts change will be progressive and more successful.”

Sutter commented on the biggest change he has seen during his career in policing. “When I began in policing 25 years ago the police told the public what was good for the community,” he said. “Thankfully what has changed is that we now listen to the community. In Princeton we’ve made an effort to engage the community, to listen and to see what’s needed for the community. We’ve tried to address the expectations, needs, and wants of the community from the community’s perspectives.” more

By Anne Levin

According to the Rider University website, “Westminster Student Advocacy” is the topic of a Summer Town Hall series discussion scheduled for Thursday, August 6 at 1 p.m. The event, which was planned by the Student Government Association in conjunction with University administration, is designed to give students a chance to ask President Gregory Dell’Omo, members of his board, and others, about the fall semester.

This semester is significant for Westminster Choir College, and not only because of the restrictions of COVID-19, which is particularly devastating to singers. The term marks the first since Rider has relocated Westminster, with which it merged in 1992, from its longtime Princeton location to the Rider campus in Lawrence Township. The move has been a source of controversy since it was announced a year ago, after the University tried unsuccessfully to sell the Princeton campus to a for-profit company from China.

Whether Rider will be able to eventually sell the campus depends on the outcome of two lawsuits, which are still pending. The appeal briefs are due in September, according to attorney Bruce Afran, who is representing a group of students, alumni, and others who have sued the University claiming terms of the 1992 merger prohibit the sale.  Meanwhile, the University has gone ahead with plans to relocate the Choir College.

In a July 29 mailing to Westminster alumni from Dean Marshall Onofrio, the status of Westminster’s various choral ensembles was outlined in reference to the global pandemic. In the message, Steve Pilkington of the Conducting, Organ, and Sacred Music Department called the next 10 months “a kind of institutional gap year.”  After multiple meetings and virtual discussions, and review of recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control, a plan for Westminster’s renowned choral program “in what is probably the most challenging year in the College’s history” was developed. more

New Leadership, New “Reconnecting” Plan at PFS

Princeton Friends School (PFS) has a new head of school, a new leadership team, and a “reconnecting” plan to bring the entire student body back to campus for a five-day-a-week program this fall.

“Drawing on its deep-rooted Quaker tradition of ‘standing still in the light,’ PFS is poised to adapt to the new realities of what it means to be back at school,” a PFS press release states.

New Head of School Melissa Carroll will be joined by two new senior administrators, Robbin Washington-Smart as director of strategic enrollment management and financial aid, and Sherika Campbell as director of advancement.

With small class sizes and a traditional emphasis on outdoor learning in their wooded surroundings, PFS teams have been working on plans to use the grounds to maximize outdoor capabilities and efficiencies. 

In addition to on-campus learning, PFS states that this year will be a hybrid virtual learning experience that will allow all students to actively engage, whether at home or on campus.

Four new members — Alison Sommer-Sayre, Brandon Jacobs, Nadir Jeevanjee, and Stephen Fox — will be joining the PFS school committee this fall, and Caroline Clarke, who has previously served on the committee, will be rejoining. more