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Princeton University plan would increase number of undergrads

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Princeton University said Tuesday that it would increase its undergraduate student body for the first time in nearly a decade as part of phased-in strategy that includes more campus buildings, another residential college and added faculty.
The expansion was contained in a strategic planning framework that outlines that and other goals the university has in mind in charting the future of one of the world’s most selective colleges. Plans call for adding 500 undergraduates at a rate of 125 per class per year, building the seventh residential college, accepting more graduate students and allowing transfers from other schools — a move aimed at diversifying the student body.
“The framework identifies a number of goals that will require very substantial commitments of resources and significant fundraising — including expansion of the undergraduate student body and new facilities to support engineering and environmental studies — and all of the priorities it articulates will require thorough consultation, wise decision-making, and the judicious allocation of funds,” university President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a statement.
At the moment, Princeton has around 5,200 undergraduates, an amount that has held steady despite a soaring number of applications. Last year, the school announced it had offered admission to 1,908 students out of the record-number 27,290 applicants seeking to be part of the current freshman class.
Locally, municipal officials said the school expansion plans come as no surprise given how Mr. Eisgruber has talked of wanting to admit more students.
“None of that is entirely unexpected,” Councilwoman Jo S. Butler said Tuesday.
Mayor Liz Lempert said Wednesday that it has been helpful to have Mr. Eisgruber meet with the council each year to discuss he school’s plans. She said the topic of expanding student enrollment had come up at those meetings in the past few years.
“So it does not come as a surprise,” Mayor Lempert said, “but it still raises issues that will need to be addressed as the university works on its campus plan.”
She met on Jan. 29 with the school’s board of trustees, and said the two sides had discussed the campus planning process and the need to involve the community “early on.”
She said she brought up that when the school has expanded in the past, it has led to tensions in the neighborhoods where that growth has occurred. She cited the move of the Dinky station as an example.
Mayor Lempert was accompanied at the meeting by Council President Lance Liverman and town administrator Marc D. Dashield. 

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