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Release: May 6, 2002

UI faculty don aprons, oven mitts to help students battle budget cuts, tuition hikes

Dozens of University of Iowa professors will be conducting experiments in the next few days, but not the kind they spent years in graduate school training for. They’ll employ ovens not Bunson burners, measuring cups not test tubes, and mixing bowls not petri dishes, as they wade through a new challenge that requires time in the kitchen, not the lab.

The goal is to produce a perfect—or at least edible—batch of brownies, cookies, cupcakes, or any other baked good that can be sold Saturday, May 11 to raise money for student scholarships. Organized by Wilfrid Nixon, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and a member of the UI Faculty Senate, the first-ever Budget-Cut Bake Sale runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. rain or shine in Hubbard Park across from the Iowa Memorial Union at Madison and Jefferson Streets in Iowa City.

Nixon said it is an opportunity for faculty to do something positive to help students who are faced with the double-whammy financial burden of rising tuition and shrinking state contributions to higher education.

During the current fiscal year, the UI has faced three separate cuts in its state funding for a total loss of more than $38 million. While bake sale organizers acknowledge the sale won’t solve the university’s financial woes, they do see it as a way for faculty members to get involved in the solution rather than complaining about the problem.

“Do I expect to raise $40 million? No. I’d be surprised if it made more than $20 million,” Nixon said with his characteristic wit. He added, seriously, “Most faculty I know are incredibly committed to student success and are worried that the budget cuts will affect students more than anything else. The goal is to do the best we can to create some benefit for the students.”

All proceeds from the sale will be directed to the university treasurer’s office to be disbursed in the form of scholarships.

Nixon said UI Provost Jon Whitmore, and many friends as well as past and current Faculty Senate members all have agreed to supply the sale with home-baked items. No telling yet what will be available, but Nixon did say that he will attempt Chocolate Damnation—“but given my skills it’s more likely to resemble a Chocolate Purgatory” –and his unique recipe for Budget Cut Brownies—“they may not taste good, but they will be good for you.”

The whole community is welcome to participate in the sale as bakers or buyers, although Nixon said faculty members are especially encouraged to participate.

Anyone interested in donating baked goods to the sale should drop them off at the booth in Hubbard Park on Saturday morning, May 11. Nixon can be reached at (319) 335-5166 or