PRINCETON: Westminster Choir College faculty stage ‘teach-in’ demonstration

Assistant professor of voice Thomas Faracco.

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Assistant professor of voice Thomas Faracco.

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Faculty at Westminster Choir College, feeling left in the dark about the future of a school that is up for sale, staged a “teach-in” demonstration Monday that saw professors cancel morning classes.
The timing of the job action comes amid Westminster poised to be sold by Rider University, with the expected new owner coming from China. Professors know little about what is happening, said one long-time faculty member on Monday.
“We’ve been frustrated, as a faculty, because we really don’t have a forum to let the students know how we feel about what’s going on,” said assistant professor of voice Thomas Faracco. “And we wanted the students to know our viewpoint about this whole acquisition that’s going on, and the importance that faculty have a say in what the school will look like, if it, indeed, is sold to this foreign entity.”
An exact number for how many professors cancelled classes was not immediately available. No further demonstrations are planned, he said.
“The university respects the right of our faculty to express their opinion as they did today,” Rider spokeswoman Kristine A. Brown said Monday. “We continue to work diligently to finalize our mutual goal of continuing Westminster Choir College on the Princeton campus with a partner that is well positioned to make the necessary investments in and build upon Westminster’s world-class curriculum and rich legacy. The university remains encouraged by the strong progress made to date. While we all share the desire to move this process forward quickly, much work still remains. We are committed to working closely with our students, faculty and staff during this time and continue to ask everyone for their patience as this important process moves forward.”
Faracco said that he had received an email from Marshall Onofrio, dean of Westminster College of the Arts, that Rider President Gregory G. Dell’Omo and two of the Rider board of trustees would want to meet with the Westminster faculty and staff.
“But the only time they had possible was this morning during the teach-in,” Faracco said. Faculty members decided they would in “no way” change their plans, he said, but still leaving the door open to a meeting with the Rider hierarchy.
The Princeton Packet sought to cover some of the teach-in but was stopped by Onofrio, who asked that all photographs of the event be deleted.