During the class of 1981’s senior year, the much admired chaplain Dick Dannenfelser was fired from Brown University after thirteen years of service due to budget cuts. Faculty petitions and student protests ensued but the university upheld their decision. The university also cut back on financial aid due to a $600,000 overage for the 1980-1981 fiscal year, limiting aid only to incoming freshman. Students continued their protests, this time because of the minority and lower-income students who would not be able to attend or remain at Brown. Again, the decision was upheld and almost two hundred students were denied admission because of their inability to pay.
Though it was a difficult time for the Brown community, the university was able to invite prominent individuals to speak on campus. Vice President Walter Mondale, Representatives Bella Abzug and John Anderson, Senator George McGovern, and Ambassadors Herbert Okun and Andrew Young, all spoke on campus during the 1981 academic year.