AAUP Calls on New Jersey Pols to Intervene in Dispute over Fate of Westminster Choir College In light of Renewed Concern over Academic Freedom and Jobs
AAUP Points to Kean University’s Plan to Transition its China-based Campus Faculty to Direct Employ of Chinese Government
Princeton, NJ, November 19th – Today the Rider University Chapter of the AAUP sent urgent letters to a number of New Jersey state officials calling upon them to block the proposed sale of the renowned music school, Westminster Choir College (WCC), to a for-profit Chinese company with no experience in higher education. The demand comes on the heels of revelations in Politico that the New-Jersey based Kean University plans to allow the Chinese Government to become the direct employer of over 100 faculty members at their satellite campus in China.
“We have reached the point where if the sale of WCC is finalized, not only will the school face the specter of diminished academic freedom, but faculty members will effectively become employees of the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” said Jeffrey Halpern of the AAUP, which represents all WCC faculty. “If New Jersey allows this, it will be the first time at US college falls under the direct control of an authoritarian foreign government.”
The AAUP letter provides extensive documentation of its claims regarding the unsuitability of the proposed buyer, Beijing Kaiwen Educational Technology, and outlines how the Rider University administration and Board of Trustees have violated their roles as stewards of the iconic music school.
The Union has delivered packets of information to Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, Chair of the NJ Assembly Committee on Higher Education; Senator Sandra P. Cunningham, Chair of the NJ Senate Committee on Higher Education; ; Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis, New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Gurbir Grewal, the NJ AG; US Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman; Governor Murphy and Senators Booker and Menendez. The letter requests “that you use your authority to work with other state officials to help stop this ill-conceived transaction, not solely because it would likely lead to the destruction of New Jersey’s iconic musical institution, but because it would create a dangerous precedent that threatens U.S. higher education in general.”
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Attachments Submitted to State Leaders