Facing possible $13M deficit, Rider considers closing Westminster Choir campus
LAWRENCEVILLE — Rider University is "evaluating many aspects of the university" as it prepares for its future and has no immediate plans to close the Westminster Choir College’s Princeton campus.
Rider's student newspaper, The Rider News, reported that President Gregory Dell’Omo told faculty and staff that the school needs a significant increase in enrollment and is watching costs in order to avoid a projected $13.1 million deficit by 2019. One idea being considered, according to the report, is to move Westminster to the main campus in Lawrenceville and sell the property.
"As part of the university’s strategic planning process now underway, we are evaluating many aspects of the university to assure they align with Rider’s blueprint for the future," Rider spokesman Kristine Brown said. "One of those aspects is a comprehensive study and analysis to determine the feasibility of a one-campus model. This is a very comprehensive study, directed and led by the university’s Board of Trustees and senior leadership. The study is currently underway and it is imperative to note that no decisions have been made as to the outcome of this study."
The Westminster College of the Arts comprises Westminster Choir College, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and Westminster Conservatory, the community music school. Currently, 320 undergraduates and 119 graduates attend class at the campus on Walnut Lane in Princeton.
Over 5,000 students attend Rider on its main campus.
The Rider chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which represents the school's faculty, proposed annual savings of up to $5.5 million annually, but Dell'Omo said it was too little and would take too long to have an impact on the university, according to the report.
Dell'Omo proposed cutting 13 majors and 20 positions in October 2015. The faculty agreed to a two-year wage freeze at the time, which saved the positions and majors.
Brown said that it's a difficult issue to consider given the strong traditions and history associated with our Princeton campus.
"That is why we are taking the time we need to do a full and thorough analysis of the varied and highly complex elements surrounding the concept of a one-campus model."
"Our goal is to build and sustain a strong, viable Rider University now and into the future," Brown said.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.