• circinspect

    One can only hope that Dell’Omo and the Trustees go down in flames, as a result of this self-created crisis. Only pure greed and a complete disregard for the role of art in society could inspire a university to view Westminster Choir College – one of the top schools for choral music in America – as nothing more than a piece of real estate.

  • Jaimie Gilhooley Flack

    Thank you for this article.

    What stakeholders and non-financial factors, if any, did Dell’Omo and other decision makers consider when they agreed to the sale? Inquiring minds are demanding answers.

    We have no answers only the name of a company with an educational sounding name that is really a ship and steel building company in China. Rider’s board set-up the Westminster Special Committee (originally called Westminster Consolidation Committee but that was too obvious) to work on selling off WCC in secret. I and another WCC alumni Rider Trustee have resigned. We will not support the monetization of WCC to benefit Rider. I am very concerned about what will happen to WCC’s $19M endowment, plus millions in planned and estate gifts that will transfer to the Chinese in this sale. I believe there are ethical issues such as donor intent that are not being addressed in this sale. We suspect they will close WCC and it will become a Chinese boarding school and WCC donations will be used to support this.

    I also question the lack of ethics and integrity in Rider’s President, Administrative Team and the Board of Trustees. They have done irreparable harm not only to WCC but also to Rider. I know they are up for Middle States Accredidation review this spring. They are not meeting the standards they set in regards to mission, values and the Rider Promise they state in their strategic plan. The sale of WCC is a dream come true for Rider’s leadership, some of them have been working on this for years, and they hired this President to “get the job done” it’s all about ego and greed.

  • Michael F. Cade

    Nonprofits walk a fine line when it comes to transparency. Boards are required to use their best judgement and make decisions that they feel are in the best interests of the organization and its ability to fulfill its mission. Boards are not required to release the reasoning behind their decisions and obtain approval from all stakeholders.

    In this case, it seems that Rider is subsidizing WCC operations at a level it can no longer continue. The unfortunate reality is that no matter what people seem to think nonprofits are businesses. As such, sometimes it is necessary to take actions that people will not like.

    It is important to consider that the WCC merger with Rider was the direct result of WCC’s financial distress back in 1992. In addition, Rider considered a consolidation plan to continue WCC but move it to facilities on Rider’s campus, however, this plan was rejected by the WCC stakeholders.

    Does the public get a vote? Well, donors do by voting with their wallets, as some have.

    I would think that the Board would want to try to diffuse the significant concerns that have arisen. More so, transparency into the process may have helped to avoid some of these issues. Unfortunately, with lawsuits pending, the Board may be exercising prudence by keeping quiet.

    Issues similar to this one seem to be happening more frequently in the nonprofit sector as organizations react to changes in their client communities. The status quo is simply not sustainable and Boards need to get ahead of this curve. Maybe then they can plan and communicate early enough to find creative solutions and avoid the harm that these crises can cause.