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After three years of consideration, trustees approve Wythes plan

In a landmark vote Saturday, the University Board of Trustees unanimously approved the Wythes committee's recommendation to increase the size of the undergraduate student body by 500 students — finalizing a decision that prompted almost three years of deliberation and elicited considerable campus debate.

The increase will be phased in over four years, beginning in 2003 or 2004, once the necessary facilities and living spaces have been constructed, committee chair Paul Wythes '55 said.


"[The trustees] were very receptive," Wythes said of his committee's proposal. "The resolution approved not just the student body increase, but the report in its totality."

In 1997, the Wythes committee was charged with exploring the long-term strategic issues facing the University. Then, in January, the committee recommended a 500-student increase and the construction of a new residential college to accommodate the growth.

"This has been a considerable area of discussion for the trustees," Vice President and Secretary Thomas Wright '62 said. "By the time the issue was voted on, all of the trustees' concerns had been addressed and discussed."


The trustees did revise several sections of the report to address points raised by students and faculty during the past two months, Wythes said. One significant amendment to the original report is that the administration will be required to work in conjunction with the faculty to implement the student body size increase. In the original document, the administration had sole power over implementing the student body growth.

"We feel it is important that they work together," Wythes said. "It's a partnership."

The trustees also altered the section of the report pertaining to the graduate school, Wright said. Under the revised resolution, a department may alter the number of graduate students it accepts based on the number of undergraduates the department serves.


"While it is clear that some departments will change, the longer-term outlook of the graduate school will not change," Wright added.

The approved resolution does not recommend an increase in the size of the faculty beyond the one-percent annual growth rate the faculty scheduled through 2004. "If you project faculty growth to the time when the new size of the student body will be fully realized, there will have been an eight percent increase in faculty size," he noted.

The trustees are recommending that future faculty positions be allocated to departments that attract significant numbers of additional undergraduates, Wythes said. "There will be additional [faculty positions] for those departments that are more popular," he said. "It's not an easy adjustment when you have [professors] hired for life with tenure."

By increasing the total number of undergraduates on campus, the trustees believe campus diversity will be increased and the college experience will be enhanced, Wythes added.

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