October 4, 2005
To: Members of the Claremont McKenna College Community
From: Peter K. Barker, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Pamela B. Gann, President of the College
Re: Growth of the College
We are writing to update the CMC community on the recent decision of the Board of Trustees to increase the size of the College to approximately 1,100 students in Claremont. This increase compares with the current on-campus enrollment level of approximately 1,040 students.
At its recent meetings on September 30 – October 1, 2005, the Board of Trustees engaged in a comprehensive discussion of the qualitative and financial aspects of a potential growth in enrollment to approximately 1,100 students. As a result of this discussion, the Board of Trustees voted to increase the targeted on-campus enrollment level to approximately 1,100 students. The Board’s decision to pursue modest growth at this time included the following considerations:
· Student Selectivity and Shaping the Class. The College has experienced a significant increase in its already high selectivity in the past two years. In particular, the number of freshman applications has increased from approximately 3,000 at the beginning of this decade to approximately 3,500 in 2004 and to over 3,700 in 2005. CMC’s rate of admission has correspondingly fallen from approximately 30% to 21% for this year’s entering class.
CMC’s increased selectivity is a result of a combination of factors, including the continual strengthening of the College’s reputation and the College’s strategic decisions to recruit more actively in the east and to increase international recruitment. These figures also reflect the current demographic trend in which more students are applying to colleges and universities than at any time previously.
These factors indicate that CMC will continue to have a robust applicant pool through the next decade. As a result, we are highly confident that the modest increase of approximately 20-30 students per class will strengthen the overall quality of the class and will also provide more flexibility to shape the class overall.
· Academic and Teaching Resources. Increasing the size of the student body affords the opportunity to increase strategically the size of the faculty, which strengthens the College’s academic program and reputation in general. Most importantly, enrollment growth will not diminish the College’s strategic goal to maintain a student-faculty ratio of approximately 9-1. The Dean of the Faculty’s Office will work closely with our academic departments, our relevant standing faculty committees, and the faculty as a whole to develop revised faculty staffing goals in view of both the planned enrollment growth as well as the move to a four-course teaching load for core faculty.
In addition, the Dean of the Faculty’s Office will also work closely with these groups to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to any necessary investments that will be needed in such areas as academic advising, faculty and administrative support, academic computing, and other areas administered by the Dean of the Faculty’s Office.
· Growth, Campus Intimacy, and the Student Experience. CMC’s campus intimacy is an essential characteristic of the College that is highly valued by all members of the CMC community.
Although many factors contribute to campus intimacy, we believe that maintaining a single dining hall is one of the most important factors related to physical campus. Thus, it is important to emphasize that the planned growth can be absorbed by Collins Hall at its current size.
The Campus Master Plan has also identified a dormitory site in Badgley Garden as well as a potential location for additional apartments that can comfortably accommodate the increased enrollment while maintaining the campus’ open space and aesthetics. As the planning for growth proceeds, we will consult with students, faculty, and alumni to gain the important feedback that will be necessary to ensure that the new residential space will improve and enhance our campus and our residential life program.
In addition to these “physical” characteristics of our campus, the Dean of Students Office will work with the student representatives on the relevant Board of Trustees Committees and ASCMC to insure that appropriate investments are made for student activities and co-curricular activities (including funding opportunities for internships, study-travel programs, community service, and student research) to maintain the excellent range of opportunities that are currently available to students to enrich and enjoy their learning experience outside of the classroom.
Finally, it is important to remember that CMC will remain among the smallest national liberal arts colleges in terms of enrollment. In particular, enrollments at highly selective national liberal arts colleges average 1,600-1,900 students. Thus, even at 1,100 students, CMC will remain a distinctively small college.
· The Claremont Colleges Consortium. Claremont McKenna’s decision to grow comes at a time in which other members of The Claremont Colleges are also growing or are considering growth. The CMC Administration is committed to working affirmatively with our sister institutions to ensure that growth will not create any negative “externalities” for the other Colleges in terms of our respective academic programs or in terms of student or administrative services supported through the Claremont University Consortium.
· Financial Resources. The Treasurer’s Office will work to develop a financial model for the proposed growth that will incorporate the recommendations that will be developed through our planning process. Since these recommendations have yet to be finalized or approved, it is not possible to provide an estimate of the financial impact of growth on the College’s operations. Nevertheless, we are confident that we can implement growth in a manner that will have a positive or neutral impact on the College’s operations. In addition, although growth will necessarily involve some dilution of the College’s endowment per student in the short term, the effect is relatively small and, assuming that the College will pursue a fund-raising campaign in the next decade, should be offset by new endowment gifts over the next 5-7 years.
· The Opportunity to Extend Access to a CMC Education and to Strengthen Alumni Base. As noted above in the admission discussion, we are in a period of unprecedented growth in demand for higher education in the United States. Although the level of growth approved by the Board is modest, pursuing a plan for reasonable growth that maintains the outstanding quality of a CMC education represents an important commitment by the College to assist in meeting the responsibility of private higher education to educate America’s young people. Growth also presents an important opportunity to extend access to a CMC education to more students.
Finally, it is also important to highlight that responsible growth enables the College to deepen the impact of our mission through a continued expansion of our alumni base. Over time, the growth of our alumni base is an important factor in enhancing the value of a CMC education and in building a network of support for our graduates and future generations of CMC students.
As noted above, the next step for the College in this process is for the Administration to work collaboratively with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and with the other members of The Claremont Colleges to develop an implementation plan and timeline for the proposed growth. The Board of Trustees has requested that the Administration present a preliminary implementation plan and timeline for growth to 1,100 students at its next meeting on November 30, 2005.