Westminster Choir College AAUP Faculty Meeting
Monday, October 9, 2017, Cullen 2
On August 17 President Dell’Omo announced he’d selected a buyer for Westminster Choir College.
On behalf of himself and the Board of Trustees he stated, “From the beginning, our goal has been to identify a partner that is well positioned to make the necessary investments in and build upon Westminster’s world-class curriculum and rich legacy.”
On October 3 the Westminster community learned Dell’Omo’s buyer is a for-profit corporation that runs K–12 schools in Asia—an entity with no experience whatever running a university anywhere. How could such an organization qualify as “well positioned” to “build upon Westminster’s world-class curriculum and rich legacy”? We cannot know, because the buyer’s identity is still a secret. We were asked to trust that Dell’Omo has Westminster’s best interest in mind.
Our dean reported Westminster’s governance would be decided behind closed doors in a conversation between Rider’s attorneys and those of the buyer. He invited us to send him suggestions, which he’d be happy to pass along.
Westminster faculty don’t make suggestions about important matters. We participate collectively in making decisions—in rooms open to all members of our community. If the buyer truly believes in our mission, it has to understand such faculty involvement is why Westminster is exceptional.
Westminster faculty expect to retain a central role because we will continue to act collectively. We are a community of solo artists who choose to act in concert—the blending of the best ideals of Western and Eastern cultures. Because of our 26-year association with the Rider AAUP we already have an extraordinarily successful governance structure, promotion and tenure process, and guidelines for how to attract and retain the best artists in the world. Westminster faculty are prepared to “build upon Westminster’s world-class curriculum and rich legacy.” But we will not destroy what helped make it great.
While Westminster remains part of Rider, we are accredited. When Rider sells us, we won’t be and without accreditation, Westminster cannot operate. On Wednesday the dean said Westminster must complete a two-year accreditation process in four months. He reported the buyer hadn’t yet taken urgent steps necessary to begin the process. Neither had the University provided the necessary financials it’s had ten months to prepare.
But the sobering prospects of these revelations aren’t the only problem. Accreditation cannot move forward without the support of Westminster’s faculty and we will not participate in such a process without knowing who the buyer is and having our voices heard through collective representation.
We, the undersigned AAUP faculty demand full disclosure of Westminster’s buyer and the right to participate in important questions of governance and collective representation.
Thirty-four signatures (unanimous of those present with more signatures anticipated by faculty whose commitments prevented them from attending