HMC Considers Expansion

The Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees has proposed an enrollment expansion that could increase the college size from 775 students to up to 900 students over the course of a decade, a proposal to which many students have reacted strongly. Though the administration has created financial projections for future college enrollments of 750, 850, and 900 students thus far, no definite decisions have been made about whether the college will expand or how big the expansion would be.

“We are in the midst of discussions with faculty, students, staff, and alumni right now. The board has not made any decision to increase the enrollment at this point,” HMC President Maria Klawe wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “We are simply asking for input from various groups about their thoughts on a possible increase.”

Lucas Brady HM ’13 said he is very much against the expansion proposal.

“I think it’s important for Mudd to keep its very small, almost family-like community,” Brady said.

Klawe has hosted four dinners with students to discuss the proposed changes and will host two more dinners Feb. 25 and 27. During the fall 2012 semester, small group faculty meetings were also held to discuss the proposed changes.

Computer science professor Geoff Kuenning is one faculty member who is opposed to the expansion of the school.

“I am a strong believer in close relationships among the students and close relationships among the faculty and the students. The smaller the college, the closer these relationships are,” Kuenning said. “There’s disagreement, but people generally feel that expansion would result in less intimacy between professors and students and also between the students.”

In the financial projections, HMC included calculations for where the money from the extra tuition would go. Some possibilities were building renovations, hiring more faculty, increasing financial aid, and expanding the programs offered at HMC. Zakkai Davidson HM ’16 acknowledged the benefits that increased tuition income could bring but also stressed the benefits a smaller school has.

“Newer facilities would be nice,” Davidson said. “But I think it’s more important to keep Mudd true to what Mudd really is. I chose Mudd because it has a strong sense of community, and you more or less know everyone.” 

Kuenning said that he was skeptical that HMC would need new facilities to attract students.

“I often hear students say things along the lines of, ‘This is the first time I was in a place where there were a lot of people like me,’” Kuenning said. “We need to keep up, but I don’t think shiny beautiful classrooms are the number-one factor for incoming students.”

Brady also emphasized his positive experiences with the HMC community.

“I’m a physics major, and I’ve had really close interactions with all of the physics professors and a number of professors in other departments,” Brady said. “I feel like I can talk to any of them and go to them if I need anything.”

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