Lack of progress in Westminster legal action leaves plaintiff frustrated – The Rider News
By Shaun Chornobroff
After appealing the court’s decision to dismiss lawsuits against Rider over the transition from Princeton’s Westminster Choir College to Rider’s Lawrenceville campus, the Westminster Foundation, a group of alumni and faculty, is still awaiting a date for the pleadings more than two years later. .
Two lawsuits were filed by the Westminster Foundation on behalf of students and alumni of Westminster Choir College (WCC), but in March 2020, the New Jersey Superior Court granted Rider’s motion to dismiss them. Since then, the Westminster community has been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to present its case to the Courts of Appeal.
Constance Fee, chair of the Westminster Foundation, said she was “flabbergasted” by the long delay to a court date.
“We maintain our position. … It’s frustrating not having news to share. I wish there was something, but we’re just waiting,” a disappointed Fee said.
Rider’s associate vice president for marketing and academic communications, Kristine Brown, said the lawsuits “may continue for some time.”
“Rather than advocating, which only serves to damage the future success of Westminster Choir College, we believe that everyone’s resources and energy would be better directed towards rebuilding Westminster’s enrollment, strengthening its reputation and encouraging possible program synergies on the Lawrenceville campus,” Brown said. in an email to The Rider News.
As the wait for a conclusion on the two Westminster trials continues, the Princeton campus that once housed the WCC remains unsold. Although the campus is not marketed as being for sale, according to Brown, there are many parties interested in acquiring the campus.
“We won’t speculate on a sale price, but we believe 23 acres of property in Princeton has value,” Brown said.
“Rider is taking many steps to solidify its financial position. While these efforts are not predicated on the sale of the Princeton campus, the sale of the property would be helpful not only for the sale proceeds, but also to end the substantial expenses the university incurs for operations and maintenance. basic maintenance of this property,” Brown said.
Rider vice president and chief financial officer Jim Hartman estimated that maintaining the Princeton campus costs the university $1.2 million a year.
In addition to lawsuits brought by Westminster students and alumni, the school is also the subject of a lawsuit from Princeton Theological Seminary.
The seminary argues that it has a beneficial interest on campus and accuses Rider of violating an agreement made between the university and Princeton Theological Seminary when Rider acquired Westminster in 1992.
Brown said the university and the seminary have filed motions for summary judgment and the next step in the legal process for the Princeton Theological Seminary lawsuit is oral arguments.
Rider recently announced plans to make WCC a member of the school’s new College of Arts and Sciences and Brown asserted that WCC remains an important component of the new college.
Despite much controversy surrounding Westminster’s assimilation to the Lawrenceville campus, Fee remains hopeful that the school will continue to integrate into the Rider community.
“I hope it will be; I can’t say I’m confident that will be the case, but I’m hopeful, and we can’t really count on anything happening one way or another in this moment,” Fee said. “We just have to wait and see how things develop.”