A lawsuit was filed by The Westminister Foundation naming Rider University and Beijing Kaiwen Education Technology Co. in an attempt to hinder the buyout of Westminster Choir College (WCC) to the Chinese company. Kaiwen Education is a private non-profit school based in Beijing, China, held by Badachu Holdings Group and is currently trying to buy Westminster Choir College for $40 million.
The complaint from the Westminister Foundation is that it says Kaiwen Education Co. created a sham nonprofit to conceal the true ownership of the school.
Bruce Afran, an attorney for the Westminster Foundation said, “Rider University’s proposed sale of Westminster Choir College to Beijing Kaiwen … is a disguised takeover of an American college by the Chinese government.” and “This proposed sale will endanger Westminster’s long tradition of academic freedom.” One of their biggest concern is that the Chinese company will use Westminister’s endowment of $20 million for its own private use.
Jaimie Flack, a former Westminister College student who resigned in protest from the alumni board in June due to the fact that she cannot support “the monetization of Westminster Choir College to benefit Rider University.”
“I will never feel that their (Rider’s) interest is in our interest,” she said. “It’s all about money. This is not about academics, not about ideology.”
Constance Fee, the president of the Westminister Foundation expresses her opinions on the academic freedom that is threatened by this arrangement. Acknowledging the fact that all concert repertoire must require the intervention of the Chinese government, she sees the stake that comes with the buyout, which is the limitation of the amount of freedom and creativity the choir has in the future.
But some administrators at Westminster Choir College are very supportive and optimistic about this sale.
“This is the beginning of an exciting new era for Westminster Choir College, its faculty, staff, and students,” said Gregory G. Dell’Omo, president of Rider University. “Kaiwen Education put forth an impressive proposal rooted in their sincere interest in the Westminster brand and in keeping the institution as a part of the Princeton community. We are eager to continue collaborating with Kaiwen Education to develop a binding agreement, the next step in this process.”
Kaiwen Education Co. has also expressed that their goal of buying WCC is to sustain and grow its reputation to a higher caliber while maintaining its artistic integrity and its academic name.
As of now, the school’s dynamic and functionality will be maintained. Nonadvocates to this arrangement between Rider and Kaiwen have all filed suit in federal court to try to block the sale.
What Is The Westminster Choir College About?
Westminister Choir College is a residential conservatory of music that is located in Princeton, New Jersey. Its mother school is Rider University. Its goal is to educate men and women with undergraduate and graduate programs for degrees in music education, voice performance, piano performance, organ performance, pedagogy, music theory, and composition, conducting, sacred music, and arts management. It also offers professional training in musical skills. They also offer its own concerts, opera choruses and a wide variety of productions and performances.