Rider University’s decision to consolidate the Westminster Choir College’s Princeton campus with its main Lawrence campus has been met with significant backlash from Rider students and faculty.
Last week, Rider University President Gregory Dell’Omo came out with a statement addressing the members of the Rider community on the need to sell the Princeton campus and consolidate all students, faculty, and staff onto the Lawrence campus.
Rider is projected to have a $13.1 million deficit by the year 2019, and is in a position where the New Jersey university would have to increase enrollment by 114 students by next fall, and another 46 by Fall 2018, according to Princeton Patch.
This statement follows a budget cut announcement last October in which the university proposed to cut 13 majors and one minor as well as 20 jobs, including 14 full-faculty members, from the school. This motion was denied after students rallied against administrators, offering up a petition with 4,100 signatures, which amounts to a quarter of the school. The proposal would have forced over 300 students to change academic paths.
Thousands of university members have signed an online petition and joined a Facebook group protesting the selling of the Westminster Choir College campus.
The petition states that selling the campus would be “eliminating the history and musicality that Westminster has provided for generations and continues to provide for us, the current students.” As of 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 14, the petition has 2,515 signatures, and the Facebook group titled “Keep Westminster Choir College In Princeton” has 2,086 members.
Other members of the university expressed separate concerns, claiming that the removal of the Westminster Choir College would significantly hurt the university’s image in terms of attracting students to the school.
The teacher’s union of Rider University has offered to take concessions in their compensation that would allow the school to save $5.5 million annually until 2020, but officials claimed that the amount was insufficient.
The decision to consolidate campuses and sell the Princeton campus is still under consideration, according University officials. The final decision is likely to be made in early 2017.