As the decade began, Macalester enrollments had plummeted and the institution faced grave financial losses from 1971 until 1976. During this period, all Master’s degree programs were dropped and fourteen tenure track faculty were let go. The Drama and Speech Department saw its production budget cut in half and two technical assistant positions in production were eliminated. John Davis was hired as President to address these fiscal and institutional challenges, and by 1977 the college was running a balanced budget. In 1978 the college began to hire new tenure track faculty members.
During this decade the Drama and Speech Department was chaired by Professor Glen Wilson, who had replaced Professor Mary Gwen Owen upon her retirement from the college in 1968. The last Drama Choros was presented in the Spring of 1970, after Mary Gwen Owen stepped down as its long-serving director.
A change in the department's leadership took place when Professor Roger Mosvick, from the Speech side of the department, replaced Professor Wilson as Chair. The new Chair was responsible for mediating disagreements over the direction of the drama program between Professor Wilson and his two colleagues, Professor Hatfield and Professor Jurik. Professor Jurik resigned from the department and became the Resident Designer at St. Cloud State University. In 1978 Professor Dan Keyser was hired as the Resident Designer and Technical Director. The focus of the department had shifted from Drama to Speech and that prevailed until the mid 1980s when the combined Drama and Speech Department became two separate departments: Department of Dramatic Arts and the Department of Communications.