Rider University rescinds Westminster Choir College faculty layoff notices on eve of arbitration

Rider University President Gregory Dell’Omo has rescinded the layoffs for faculty and staff members at Westminster Choir College in Princeton.

The move came yesterday, a day before the school and the faculty union were headed to arbitration. The faculty union had challenged the legality of the layoff notices.

School officials said the layoff notices were rescinded because the sale of the choir college will take longer than originally anticipated.

“We are currently working to finalize a binding agreement with Kaiwen Education, and we expect that process to be complete within the next few months,” Dell’Omo wrote “When we initially started this process last year, we had hoped that the transition could begin this summer. As we progressed, it became clear that Rider will continue to operate Westminster after August 31, 2018.”

Dell’Omo added that based on the “current transaction status and progress,” the transition to Kaiwen Education’s ownership “will not occur before the end of this current academic year, therefore the notice we issued to faculty has been rescinded.”

Union representatives from Rider University’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors say the layoff notices were rescinded because school officials knew the administration would have lost its case in court.

“Dell’Omo claims his reason is another revision to the timeline for the sale, yet Dean Onofrio told the Westminster community on February 23 Westminster would be part of Rider in 2018. Why did the president wait so long to confirm what faculty and staff had been told in person?,” Rider AAUP leaders wrote in a statement issued today. “Did he believe the continued uncertainty would help Westminster recruit a new class and retain its faculty? Frankly, Dell’Omo’s rationale is no more believable than his claim that layoff notices are not layoff notices.”

In the letter sent to faculty yesterday, Dell’Omo wrote that a new round of layoff notices could come in the fall.

“As we move forward with the Westminster transition, please understand that it is likely that Rider will issue a similar notice at the start of the 2018-19 academic year as the transition timetable becomes clearer,” he wrote.” We understand that when this occurs, Westminster faculty will also receive a conditional offer of employment at Westminster, contingent upon several factors such as a successful completion of the transaction.”