Since its founding, the College of William and Mary has continuously expanded from the original “hundred scholars, more or less” described by the Royal Charter to the robust student body of 5,800 it has today.
Beginning next fall, the College will continue its growth, adding 38 in-state students and 12 out-of-state students to the freshman class, a trend that will continue for the next four years.
In spring 2010, the Committee on Student Body Size was first charged with the task of determining the effect an increase in size would have on all facets of life around campus.
“While there is nothing magical about this size, the excellent education we offer is predicted, in part, on our human scale and deep faculty-student engagement, which could be jeopardized by too much, or unplanned, growth,” committee co-chair Provost Michael Halleran said.
After one year and seven meetings, the committee decided to increase overall enrollment by 200 students over the next four years, 150 of whom will be in-state students. This will increase revenue by an estimated one to 2.4 million dollars.
According to a recently released report, committee members initially thought an increase in size would not provide any foreseeable benefits to the College as a whole. But as discussion continued, the committee formulated three possible courses of action.
The three scenarios considered were options of no growth, a growth of 50 new students per year and a growth of 100 students per year.
After a thorough investigation of the impact the three scenarios would have on academics, students, admissions and finances, it was clear to the members of the committee that a growth of 50 new students per year was optimal.
“Most members of the College community are very open-minded, can recognize an economic crisis when it hits, and understand that the College has always been a dynamic and adapting entity,” committee co-chair and associate professor of business Todd Mooradian said. “We don’t look anything like we did when we were founded or like we did in the mid-twentieth century. This committee and its deliberations were a very positive process in that we surfaced assumptions about what William and Mary is and what it should aspire to be and in that we made discussions and decisions about the student body size a matter of public discourse on campus.”
According to the Report on Student Body Size, the chosen plan is believed to be the best option to allow the College to continue providing an Ivy-League-caliber education in a public setting.
The addition of these students was done partly in order to appease the state legislature. This past winter, Delegate Dave Albo (R-Fairfax)introduced a bill to increase the percentage of in-state students in Virginia colleges.
The bill was introduced on the premise that a constituent and applicant with above a 4.0 GPA and 2100 SAT score was not admitted to the College.
Other schools, such as the University of Virginia, James Madison University and Virginia Tech, have received mandates to make similar efforts. Each school will increase its percentage of incoming Virginians in their Fall 2011 freshman classes.
“To be honest, I think the growth the President decided on in discussion with Richmond and with our Board of Visitors is very modest growth,” Mooradian said. “One might call it ‘just noticeable’ growth – it won’t impact the texture or quality of the student experience very much.”