Supporters of Westminster Choir College have started a petition calling on Rider University to keep the school — one of the top music education schools in the nation — in downtown Princeton.
The petition, posted on Change.org just three days ago, has already received more than 1,700 signatures as of 1 p.m. on Friday.
A Facebook group called Keep Westminster Choir College in Princeton has more than 1,150 members, and alumni and citizens have been flooding The Rider University president’s office with calls and emails protesting a proposal to shut down the Princeton campus and move the program to the main Lawrence campus to cut expenses.
Other organizations have already expressed interest in space at the Princeton campus. Representatives for the Princeton Public Schools have inquired about leasing a portion of the campus.
Rider University President Gregory Dell’Omo told faculty and staff last week that the school may need to shut down the Princeton campus, sell the property, and consolidate all students, faculty and staff onto the Lawrence campus to avoid a university deficit that is projected to be $13.1 million by 2019.
The teachers’ union at Rider University has offered concessions that would save the school up to $5.5 million annually by 2020, but school officials claimed the short-term concessions are not enough.
Dell’Omo said Rider University needs to increase its enrollment by 114 undergraduate students by the fall 2017 and find $7.8 million in savings or face a $7 million deficit in fiscal year 2018. The school would need to increase enrollment by another 46 undergraduate students in the fall 2018 and find $7.2 million in savings, or the deficit would increase to $13.1 in 2019.
Campus consolidation is being studied and a decision will not be reached until February, school officials said.