I initially posted this under a comment, but I am reposting it as a new topic.

I am in favor of gradually increasing the size of the student body by about 10 percent, to closer to 560-600 incoming frosh. Williams has built enormous new arts and science facilties and will soon have a new student center and library to match. The size of the student body has not expanded in decades, while the applicant pool continues to grow. By the end of the fund raising drive, the endowment should be 1.5 billion, which could easily support a total student body closer to 2300-2400.

This ties into the athletic discussion: If Williams stays at 66 tips, it could add about 50 more students per year with more of a focus on arts, service, political activism and pure academic studs — the school would still be very manageably sized, but there woudl likely be more going on on campus / more efficient use of the tremendous new facilities, the very spacious natural setting, and the growing downtown area. The classroom impact of the handful of marginal recruited athletes on a proportional basis would be somewhat diluted. Indeed, the average SAT would probably stay the same or even rise somewhat by bringing the percentage of tips and legacy admits down. If tips are reduced only slightly, to 58-60, and the student body is increased, the school could maintain its athletic dominance while reducing the recruited athlete presence to only 10 percent of each incoming class.

Williams’ isolation is probably the biggest drawback in terms of attracting certain prospective students. Even 50 more students a year would bring more vibrancy to what can be a sleepy campus at times, allow for larger, more cost-effective concerts and lectures, and most importantly, allow more prospective, enthusiastic students to gain the benefits of the Williams experience, which is clearly in higher demand than ever. Even now, I think Williams’ size relative to Amherst is an advantage that helps compensate for Amherst’s consortium setting by allowing for more on-campus theater events, lectures, etc. An extra 200 students on campus would allow for even more of an advantage in this regard, without approaching the size of even the smallest Ivy League schools.

Williams should have the academic facilities in place to accomodate this increase by the end of this decade, it’s just a matter of building a few more dorms. Otherwise, I imagine one enormous and one moderate student center, huge studio art and theater complexes, a state of the art science center, and a soon to be designed new library and faculty space being somewhat underutilized. I don’t think that two extra entries per year would dramatically change the liberal arts character of the school: Middlebury already takes around 570 students per year. Thoughts?

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