In the wake of the Wythes committee's proposed 10-percent increase in the size of the undergraduate student body, officials said the University has sufficient space and resources to accommodate the construction of a sixth residential college.
University Vice President and Secretary Thomas Wright '62 said after having "several presentations presented to them," the Wythes committee — chaired by Paul Wythes '55 — determined that a sixth residential college would be necessary if the University were to approve the 500-student increase.
According to the Wythes Committee Report, the University campus "has sufficient capacity on the existing campus side of Lake Carnegie to accommodate the required additional dormitory space and a new residential college, and adding such facilities in these locations would enhance the scale and setting of the campus."
Vice President for Facilities Kathleen Mulligan agreed. "I certainly do think that the University has sufficient space to accommodate a potential sixth residential college," she said.
To address the committee's recommendation, the University administration already has hired the architectural planning firm of Kieran, Timberlake & Harris, which has begun studying several possible sites for the college.
According to Wright, the college could be constructed on Poe Field as the third and final component of the group of buildings known as the "shallow ellipse" originally conceived by former University consulting architect Rodolfo Machado. The college would be located west of Scully Hall, completing the curve formed by Scully and the Carl C. Icahn Laboratory — which will house the Institute for Integrative Genomics — slated to open in spring 2002.
Another possible location for the college would be just south of Dillon Gym, a site Wright labeled "very attractive" because "the land falls off very quickly" and would enable the University to provide a large amount of living space in a relatively small area.
Director of Physical Planning Jon Hlafter '61 said, however, that "it is by no means certain that all of the bed spaces needed would go at one site in one residential college."
"The sixth residential college could be arranged using both new and old dorms," Hlafter said, adding that sections of existing buildings such as Wu Hall could be converted to dormitory rooms.
Aside from space concerns, the Wythes committee's recommendation to create a sixth residential college has raised questions about how the college would be filled by students.
In the first year of the college's operation, the college would have a full class of freshmen, and the committee has considered suggesting that sophomores be pulled from other colleges to accommodate the additional vacancies, Wythes said in an interview.
Some residential college officials said they do not think sophomore relocation would be a problem.
Mathey College Director of Studies Steven Lestition said these changes would be "not a big deal," adding that with the proposed gradual increase in the student body, only 25 sophomores per college would have to move into the new college.
Lestition speculated that 25 sophomores from each college would want to draw into the new college because of its brand new facilities and the novelty of living in a completely new place. He likened the situation to when members of the classes of 1999 and 2000 elected to live in temporary housing in 1998, awaiting the completion of Scully.
German professor Michael Jennings, who served as master of Rockefeller College from 1990 to 1999, said displacement of sophomores should be voluntary. "Forcible displacement goes against everything the masters believe about the residential college system," Jennings said. "I wouldn't in general think that is a good idea."
Jennings said he believed, however, that the sixth college was a good idea. "The longer I'm here, the clearer it is to me that we need more residential colleges," he said. He added that he would like to see the University in the future include juniors and seniors in the residential college system.
Wright said adding a new college would not significantly change the University. He added that since 1958, when he was a freshman at the University, he "can't tell any difference at all in the way students interact with each other," or "in the feel of the campus."
Changes to the campus are nothing new in Wright's tenure at the University. When listing possible locations for the new college, he pointed out that "it has always been thought that Forbes and the area around Forbes would be able to accommodate more bed spaces."
Wright said that to create more residential space, "someday we will probably pull down the so-called Forbes Annex," because it is "not particularly architecturally significant."