Graphic by Julia Garrison ’25.

Amelia Crowley

Contributing Writer

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) hosted their second meeting in a series of discussions regarding academic freedom. Faculty members filed into Kauke 237 on the rainy morning of Thursday April 11. The AAUP discussion was focused around college budgets and deciding what receives funding at colleges.

Ian McCullough, science librarian, started the discussion by talking about his time spent at the University of Akron before coming to Wooster, during which there were pushes to lay off many faculty members due to budget calculations predicting a $70 million deficit; this deficit was miscalculated by 41.7% and resulted in the dismissal of almost 100 employees. 

The next speaker was Sid Simpson, former professor at Wooster and current professor of politics at Sewanee: The University of the South. Attending the meeting via a Zoom call, he spoke about the points of contention in budget building for institutes of higher education and how they are made. 

Simpson also discussed the use of third party consulting firms, highlighting how college administrations generally look at outside sources like consulting firms and alumni opinions rather than the opinions of current students and faculty when making and approving budgets, creating the first of several disconnects.

Another facet of this disconnect is the fact that the book “Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education” by Nathan Grawe has, in the professional opinion of Simpson, created a panic in the minds of administrators at colleges and universities regarding a demographic crisis in 2026. It prompted them to drastically change their budget practices and “justify preemptive downsizing.” 

However, Simpson says that liberal arts institutions like Wooster will find their footing through the undergraduate collapse. The largest “drops” are going to be experienced “in the northeast and to some extent in the midwest — mostly at two year colleges or regional colleges.”

Simpson added that many budget decisions are “entirely ideological” and that even revenue-generating programs can be at risk of being cut. He referenced the ideology behind budget decisions in referencing athletics as an example of this. Simpson went on to explain that the sports department is often seen as a source of income, clarifying this is not the case for Wooster. He explained that due to their standing as “revenue-generating,” they are not considered for budget cuts when budgeting meetings take place. 

This causes the academic core to be neglected, where open positions due to professors retiring or going on sabbatical are not replaced. It puts academic budget factors “on the chopping block in a way that revenue generating things might not be.” Simpson brought up the question of who sets priorities and articulates categories for what gets cut or added to in the budget.

The last formal speaker at the event was Dr. Amyaz Moledina, professor of economics, who spoke enthusiastically about numbers related to Wooster’s budget. He pointed out that his numbers were from audits of the College’s budget, where there was a projected $6.1 million deficit, which was used by the previous administration to justify cuts. In reality, the deficit was $3.8 million.

Moledina’s next subject was the fact that at Wooster, faculty are supposed to have oversight over admissions policies. This means that discount rates “are something that should be brought to the faculty.” This is not being observed as more of the operating budget is coming from sources other than the endowment, which in 2003 was being used for 26% of the total money while in 2022 the endowment was only responsible for 12% of the total budget.

Moledina concluded by emphasizing that faculty should have the ability to vote on admissions policies, that decline in expenditures points to ambiguity in College spending and that additional expenditures should include oversight from faculty. 

Much of the discussion following revolved around the automatic subsidization of athletics, especially football. Simpson noted that “football never has to justify its existence.” This discussion was spurred by a comment from Dr. Laura Burch, professor of French and francophone studies, that if there were a hypothetical cut to the study abroad budget there would be no discussion, but that everyone would have an opinion regarding football. 

Student Lian Pretch, ‘25, commented that he was surprised not as many students seemed interested in the budget meeting, as the turnout was relatively low compared to the AAUP’s first discussion surrounding free speech on campus.

“People talk, they just don’t know it’s [about] a budget issue. I think stuff like the dorms is talked about a lot, it can be very frustrating as a student not knowing about this stuff you’re in this position where you’re asking very logical questions that seem like ‘why wouldn’t you [the administration] address?’”