Ebay Inc. President and CEO Meg Whitman donated $30 million that will allow Princeton University to construct a new residential college and increase the size of its student body by 500 students.
Although there has been talk in the past about Yale building more residential colleges and expanding the size of its student body, Yale President Richard Levin said the current focus is on renovating the colleges.
“To embark on constructing new colleges before we finish renovating the old ones is not something we want to do,” Levin said.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Richard Shaw agreed that Yale is concentrating on improvement before expansion.
“We’re at the moment sustaining our size at 1,300 per entering class,” Shaw said. “We’re renovating, and the focus is in the right place to bring this place up to A++ before we focus on expansion.”
Shaw said he doesn’t foresee that the increased class size at Princeton will have an adverse effect on the quality of future classes at Yale.
“There are many, many competitive students to go around,” Shaw said. “I don’t think it would have any impact on the quality of candidates that were admitted, even if there was an expansion beyond Princeton.”
Shaw said he thinks the enlargement of the Princeton student body could have a positive impact on high school students.
“Any relief in the marketplace for high school students is welcomed,” Shaw said. “If there’s more space in highly selective institutions, that’s good.”
This expansion at Princeton has been being planned for over a year. In 2000, a committee of Princeton trustees charged with looking at long-term university planning recommended increasing the undergraduate student body by 10 percent.
“The committee believes that an increase of this magnitude would enhance the quality of the overall educational experience at Princeton and would make more effective use of the university’s extraordinary resources,” the committee report said. “By providing its distinctive educational experience to a somewhat larger number of students, Princeton has the capacity to make an even greater contribution to the society it serves.”
The report’s recommendations included the construction of a sixth dormitory to house the additional students. With the recent financial backing, Princeton spokeswoman Marilyn Marks said Princeton is able to proceed with the plan.
Princeton’s undergraduate enrollment is currently 4,611 students, Marks said. The increase will bring their population close to Yale’s undergraduate size of 5,413.
And although Yale has no plans to follow Princeton’s lead in the near future, Shaw said the University’s stance is not due to a lack of qualified candidates.
“These places are incredibly selective, and there are candidates who are not successful who are absolutely competitive,” Shaw said. “Are there another 400 or 500 kids who would be perfectly competitive and not in any way impact the measure of quality? The answer is yes, yes there are.”