McCall was awarded a standing ovation by her presidential cabinet for her speech last Thursday. Graphic by Julia Garrison ’25 and photo by Willow Thomas ’25.

Julia Garrison

News Editor

President Anne McCall announced her first State of the College address to the campus community in an email on Tuesday. The event was announced for Thursday, Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. in Freedlander Theatre. Her email invite included faculty, staff and students; however, an invitation was not extended to students until two days before the meeting was scheduled to take place.

Between murmurs of the day’s going ons and loud conversations from staff, faculty and students, Freedlander was a packed house just minutes before McCall was set to begin her speech on Thursday morning. Attendance of staff members was largely disproportionate to the number of faculty and students –– both categories being underrepresented.

McCall began her address by acknowledging that –– historically –– the State of the College usually happens a few weeks earlier in the semester, but acknowledged that the delay in the meeting has given the “newest cabinet members time to join” the administrative offices. She also welcomed everyone and further emphasized the meeting was “open to all,” but noted that the event was mostly attended by “staff and faculty.”

She began discussing Wooster’s strengths and weaknesses as an institution, emphasizing strengths like the Independent Study program (IS), the offices of Religious and Spiritual Life, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, library services and many other facilities across campus.

“Everyone who is here at this campus — who is employed at this campus -– makes The College of Wooster who we are,” said McCall. “I’m proud to be part of this College.”

A discussion of Wooster’s weaknesses followed; McCall noted the need to explain certain Wooster traditions and programs to people outside of the campus community. She also noted that she did not know or understand what IS was when she was first looking at Wooster and highlighted a need to simplify and better explain these terms. 

“My analysis of the College after six months is that we often undertake initiatives because they’re the right thing to do — and they are — when you have the money to back it up,” McCall said as she discussed another weakness of the College: confusion with budgeting and allocation of funds. McCall proposed a more disciplined approach to spending across campus services and departments.

McCall went on to explain that many higher education institutions have been experiencing hardships not only within enrollment and financial aid services, but also with “legislative gag orders” that have stunted a lot of growth in areas for higher education institutions. In a Dec. 13, 2023 article by Bloomberg, The College of Wooster was listed as one of many small higher education institutions in danger of closing due to “stress flags” that raised questions of Wooster’s enrollment. The data included in the report showed Wooster as one of 973 schools tracked by Bloomberg for enrollment data change from 2008 to 2021.

McCall delved into Wooster’s early history for examples of how the College has been “stress tested” throughout time – mentioning the fire at Old Main, the College’s turmoil throughout World War I and World War II and the retiring and rebuilding after former presidents left. After each example, McCall continued to emphasize that each of these setbacks ended with “a positive financial turnaround.”

“We had fewer students and a higher discount rate,” McCall said as she began delineating the 5.5 million dollar budget deficit the College is currently in — and shared the budget realignment plan for the next few years. McCall also indicated a three year budget forecast presented by the new vice president for finance and business, David Jones ’88. 

McCall turned her focus to Douglass Hall and other renovation projects across campus. “Douglass to me is the largest sign of the problem that we have in our physical infrastructure,” she said, describing the building and its clogged showers as “dreadfully icky.” 

The building –– which was open for students to live in at the beginning of the semester –– has since been closed off to students; all students who lived there at the start of last semester have now been relocated to different residential accommodations across campus. According to McCall, Douglass had to be gutted for the showers to be able to be renovated as the calcium deposits had irremediably clogged them. The building is currently set to reopen in the summer of 2025.

McCall also mentioned that she held discussions with students about the addition of an elevator to Wishart Hall, a point of controversy and one of the major issues McCall grappled with at the beginning of her tenure. The current shaft that exists in Wishart is not suitable for an elevator that meets current ADA guidelines; the project is a work in progress and would stack up to an estimated cost of $1 million. The College brought in a third party resource to analyze buildings and deferred maintenance issues with a final report being issued next month.

McCall then paused to welcome and introduce the members of her presidential cabinet one by one, acknowledging that many members of the cabinet had been at the College for under a year, and some for under six months.

McCall shared admissions numbers under the disclaimer that many of them were not extremely helpful in understanding the current state of admissions. She clarified that these numbers will become clearer as the College learns final statistics for the class of 2028. McCall also announced new endowment opportunities and the eventual launch of a new giving campaign.

Both the Administrative and the Academic Program Reviews (APR) were mentioned by McCall. She noted that reviews of both academic and administrative programs were conducted throughout the semester. McCall also mentioned that job searches for the vice president of student affairs and the vice president for equity, inclusivity and diversity were underway, with the student affairs search being the current main focus of the administration. 

For the College’s “exploration and pilots,” McCall put an amount of money away for students, faculty and staff to pitch AI projects to her that would “better the College.” The formal announcement of this program has yet to be elaborated upon.

McCall closed out her speech with a theme of appreciation, sending off attendees with a goal and mission in mind: unconditional love.

“We see manifestations of [love] in the names of buildings that we use,” McCall explained, harkening back to many alumni-named buildings across campus — familiar names like Longbrake, Brush, Gault and Lowry. 

She then pointed to the love and care that professorships and scholarships take. “I hope that those of you that hold professorships, for example, feel that, even if it doesn’t change your salary, you should feel that.”

McCall finished her speech with a round of applause and left the stage, as no questions were asked during her brief call for questions.

Written by

Julia Garrison

Julia Garrison is the News Editor for the Wooster Voice. From Morgantown, West Virginia, she is an English and Global Media and Digital Studies double major with a pathway in digital and visual storytelling. At Wooster, she covers administrative and faculty news. She also designs visuals for stories.