Indianapolis Monthly

Big Mess on Campus

EVERY MORNING when I arrive to teach English at DePauw University, I am struck by how peaceful and promising our campus looks. Construction crews solder giant beams for a new $23 million dorm. Students lug backpacks past bubbly fountains and majestic East College, the visual centerpiece of this 182-year-old Methodist school that seems to have it all—an ethics center, a nature park, a campus farm, an indoor tennis-and-track facility, and a gleaming Center for Diversity and Inclusion with shag pillows and a barber shop. Condé Nast Traveler named DePauw one of the 50 most beautiful campuses in America, and it’s easy to see why.

But just beneath the surface, things are less sublime. The school U.S. News & World Report ranks as Indiana’s premier liberal arts college has endured a year that rocked the place to its foundation and toppled its president. The story encompasses culture, demographics, and leadership, but begins and ends with money.

For years, DePauw ran at a deficit, drawing from its flush $730 million endowment to meet the gap, but last year trustees got serious about balancing its books. Meager 1 percent raises were followed by a mid-year switch to a cheaper healthcare plan. Morale plummeted. Frustrated by what some perceived as President Mark McCoy’s lack of communication, transparency, and vision, the faculty passed a no-confidence vote. Then the real

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