LETTER: Alumnus pens open letter to DePauw trustees
To the DePauw Board of Trustees:
The current DePauw Administration took power in fall, 2020. How have they done since?
DePauw’s financial condition weakens by the year:
• Average Paid Tuition has fallen every year under this administration, to just over $16,000. It is far cheaper for an out-of-state student to attend DePauw than IU or Purdue.
• Average Paid Tuition at 24 of DePauw’s Comparison Peer Institutions is over $34,000, with a low of $18.2k [Gustavus Adolphus] to a high of $56.4k [Wesleyan].
Enrollment continues to underperform:
• Fall 2023 freshman enrollment of 499 is down from last year and is the lowest [excluding COVID classes] in at least 75 years.
• 2022-23 Total Enrollment was down 24 percent vis a vis 2013, by far the worst in the comparison group, which on average showed a slight increase.
• A report last year showed the number of DePauw graduates going on to professional or graduate school has plummeted.
• DePauw’s four-year graduation rate has now dropped below 70 percent for two years in a row. A decade ago, the percentages were in the mid-80s.
Alumni engagement struggles:
• The number of alumni making donations in fiscal year 2022 increased after dropping for the last several years, but the amounts given dropped. All numbers are well below the average for 2016-2022
Campus free expression continues to be suppressed:
• The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression [F.I.R.E.] surveys free speech at 254 universities. DePauw’s 2023 improved ranking reflects a change in FIRE rating methodology. Ranking from students remains a dismal No. 192, putting DePauw in the 23rd percentile, virtually unchanged from all prior surveys. Seventy-seven percent of the 254 schools surveyed are ranked higher by their students.
It’s possible that a board which only visits campus for a few days each year only sees and hears what the administration wants them to see and hear and therefore visits a Potemkin village, seeing everything through managed rose-colored glasses.
It seems to many of us outsiders who attempt to look under the hood that the trustees as a body are either oblivious to the damage being done to DePauw or are passively complacent as a once-proud institution deteriorates.
This board needs to dig in and drill down on every aspect of administrative governance. You hired this administration. You are responsible for their performance.