Gallaudet should not cut academic programs or faculty as a budget-balancing tactic

We found that Gallaudet has three to four times more personnel than similar institutions across all three major categories of personnel (administrative staff, non-instructional staff, and faculty). Given students’ language access needs in the classroom, a higher proportion of faculty and interpreters align with our bilingual mission. However, there is no need for a higher proportion of administrative staff. In addition, Gallaudet spends less on faculty and more on administrators and non-instructional staff compared with similar institutions. Finally, cutting academic programs reduces Gallaudet’s potential to recruit and serve students and fulfill our mission as mandated by our charter. We argue that Gallaudet should look elsewhere for budget cuts, where there is ample opportunity, and where it would not impact our potential to recruit and serve students. For example, given Gallaudet’s robust staffing levels, there should not be a need to outsource so many projects to expensive consultants.

Table 1. Personnel Ratios of Gallaudet vs. Comparator Institutions. The comparator group ratios are median ratios. “Staff” are non-instructional staff. Ratios were rounded to the nearest whole number. The last row shows the proportion of Gallaudet’s personnel relative to that of comparable smaller institutions.

Comparable Smaller Institutions3021:110:157:1
Gallaudet University17:13:116:1

Table 2. Salary Outlays (Budget) of Gallaudet vs. Comparator Institutions. Percentages of that category to total personnel outlays are shown, rounded to the nearest whole percentage.

Comparable Smaller Institutions3032%53%16%
Gallaudet University126%57%17%

Mitigating factors complicate a direct comparison with other institutions. Gallaudet serves a specialized population of students, many of whom need smaller class sizes to allow for direct language access, intensive services, and additional support due to a history of language deprivation. Additionally, our students include DeafDisabled students. A typical target for K-12 deaf education is 10:11. Additionally, more staff interpreters are needed than for comparable institutions.

The ratios in Table 1 show that Gallaudet has more personnel across all three categories than do comparable institutions. However, this excess is not distributed equally. Gallaudet’s uniqueness calls for a higher proportion of faculty and certain non-instructional staff, but not for administrative staff. Additionally, Table 2 shows that Gallaudet spends less of its budget on faculty, and more on its non-instructional staff and administrators than comparable institutions, even though this is not in line with the best practice for K-12 deaf education.

Therefore, we disagree that reductions in programs and faculty will save Gallaudet money over the long term. Reducing program offerings would reduce our ability to recruit and retain students. While these numbers of students are small for the programs under review, the same level of cuts to staffing or administration would not result in any reduction of students at all. We encourage the administration to look elsewhere for cuts. In particular, given our high staffing levels, we question why there are frequent contracts with expensive outside consulting firms for work that presumably could be done in-house.


If you are faculty and haven’t already, we hope you will consider joining the Gallaudet AAUP today. Our collective voice grows stronger with numbers and solidarity. As of today, 30% of Gallaudet faculty are dues-paying AAUP members. Faculty are also invited to follow us on MyGU, Facebook, and Twitter and join our monthly AAUP meetings held via Zoom. 

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has over 44,000 members and 500 local chapters. It has championed academic freedom, advanced shared governance, and organized to promote economic security for all academic professionals since 1915. In 2022, the AAUP merged with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second-largest education union in the United States, with 1.7 million members.

This letter was revised to correctly state “Program Discontinuance Review Committee (PDRC)”

1. Hogue, L. B., & Taylor, S. S. (2020). A review of special education caseload policies state by state: What impact do they have? Journal of Special Education Leadership, 33(1), 1-11.

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