Corporation to vote on new colleges this weekend

In a vote that has become little more than a formality, the Yale Corporation this weekend is expected to approve the addition of two new residential colleges.

The vote will cap a whirlwind year that saw many students come out against expansion at open forums in the fall semester, only to have University President Richard Levin declare his support for it in February and then for the Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, to throw its weight behind the plan a week later.

The Corporation is expected to approve a plan consisting of two new colleges, to be built behind the Grove Street Cemetery along Prospect Street, coupled with the expansion of the undergraduate enrollment by about 600 to 700 students by 2013, when the colleges would open.

By tradition, the Corporation does not disclose its agenda in advance. But Yale officials have all but given up keeping the vote under wraps, and a senior administrator confirmed that it is on the Corporation’s schedule for this weekend’s meeting.

The senior administrator spoke on the condition of anonymity because Corporation matters are held confidential.

While this weekend’s vote may not hold much suspense, it is a significant milestone nonetheless. Behind the scenes, Yale administrators have been planning the residential expansion for no less than a decade, assembling a tract of land large enough to accommodate two colleges and quietly reaching out to donors to gauge their interest in supporting the project.

In February 2007, Levin announced what he called a “year of exploration” regarding how Yale might expand its undergraduate enrollment. This past February, Levin received the report of two committees he appointed to examine the expansion plan, and he himself went public with his support for building the two new colleges.

Despite widespread student resistance to the proposed expansion, the Corporation endorsed the plan at its meeting in February, when fellows reviewed a report on the consequences of expansion and ordered administrators to prepare a budget for the expansion and a fundraising plan for financing it. That meeting ended any suspense regarding the future of the expansion plan.

At their meeting in April, Corporation members reviewed administrators’ research and asked for more information in preparation for this weekend’s formal vote.

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