PRINCETON — Rider University announced Thursday it has a potential buyer for its Westminster Choir College that plans to keep the music school at its 23-acre campus in Princeton.
The university did not name the entity, describing it as, “a potential international partner.”
The university announced the development after its board of trustees chose the finalist at a meeting Thursday.
Rider announced in March that it had hired an outside firm to seek a buyer for the choir college, and the firm received about 280 potential buyers or proposals.
Rider spokeswoman Kristine Brown said Thursday the board has been reviewing proposals over the last several weeks, and will now begin negotiations and due diligence with the selected, potential buyer.
“As we have said throughout this process, our goal was to identify a partner that is best positioned to make the necessary investments in and build upon Westminster’s world-class curriculum and rich legacy in Princeton,” Brown said.
In the fall of 2016, a Rider committee began studying whether to relocate Westminster to the university’s main campus in Lawrenceville, and how it would fit into its larger strategic plan, stoking fears that Westminster might close forever.
The university has said they are trying to increase enrollment and they face a potential $13 million shortfall by 2019. Rider has committed to operating Westminster through the end of the upcoming 2017-18 school year.
Supporters of the choir college – students, parents, alumni and donors – have been strongly outspoken in their opposition to Rider’s plans with the choir college.
In June, the group Coalition to Save Westminster Choir College in Princeton, filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York, claiming any sale that would close the music school or move it out of Princeton is illegal and would violate the 1991 merger agreement between the two institutions.
On Thursday, Brown said, “Please know that much work still remains, and as this process moves forward, it’s critical that negotiations remain confidential between Rider and the selected potential partner.
We appreciate your continued patience and promise to keep the university community informed as we move into the next phase of this important process.”