New York City, 1970: Student riots have ravaged the distinguished university where Professor Kate Fansler teaches Victorian Literature. In the ensuing disarray the survival of the linked University College, established for mature students, seems doubtful. President Jeremiah Cudlipp is determined to shut it down, fearing its existence is alienating prospective younger students, and more importantly, wealthy parents and alumni. As professors fall in line behind him, the rally of Kate and a few rebellious colleagues seems doomed.
Facing such seemingly insurmountable odds, and in the midst of balancing dissertation proposals with the politics of academia, Kate soon comes across an unlikely love interest that provides a fresh perspective. Fuelled by the poetry of W. H. Auden and her new fiancé, she begins a fight to the death to save the adjunct college, but only a miracle - or perhaps a murder - can save their beloved institution . . .