Dartmouth Won’t Expand Its Student Body

  • The east side of campus and College Park is seen from the Baker Tower on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. Phil Hanlon, the college's president, is considering an expansion of the school's undergraduate population. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, March 04, 2018

Hanover — Dartmouth College has opted not to expand the size of its student body, scrapping an idea that drew opposition from students, alumni and professors.

The Dartmouth Board of Trustees met in recent days and accepted a recommendation from President Phil Hanlon “that the undergraduate student body should remain at its current level,” according to an email on Sunday to the Dartmouth community from Laurel Richie, the board chairwoman.

“In reaching this conclusion, the board was guided by a commitment to Dartmouth’s distinctive model of close student-faculty engagement in an intimate, collaborative community that honors our profound sense of place,” Richie wrote.

“The board is constantly evaluating strategic opportunities that will enhance Dartmouth’s academic programs and financial stability, including considerations of quality, breadth, and scale. The current focus of the trustees and the administration is to enhance the quality of the Dartmouth experience. This is especially important now, as we prepare for a comprehensive fundraising campaign focused on Dartmouth’s academic distinction and the unique educational experience we offer.”

With 4,400 undergraduates, Dartmouth has the smallest student body in the Ivy League, and Hanlon last August created the Task Force on Enrollment Expansion to consider a 10 to 25 percent increase in the number of students.

Though he made clear at the time that no decision had been made, Hanlon in 2016 also told the faculty, “The most compelling reason to contemplate growth is that Dartmouth aspires to better the world by preparing graduates who have the skills and ambitions to go out and change the world. A larger student body would lead to more graduates, which would amplify our impact on the world.”

Alumni feedback on enrollment expansion was largely negative, and both The Dartmouth and The Dartmouth Review newspapers editorialized against the idea.

Asked about the task force’s findings, Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence on Sunday said, “The task force presented data and did not make a recommendation. That was not their charge.”

Richie’s email, in thanking members of the task force, made clear they looked at such factors as “how the Dartmouth experience— including the academic program, student support services, and the physical plant — would be affected by an increase in the number of undergraduates.”

Also today, Dartmouth announced that tuition, room and board and fees for the 2018-19 school year will increase by 3.9 percent, to $70,791.

The Boston Globe last month reported that several New England colleges, including Harvard, Tufts and Amherst, will now cost more than $70,000 a year to attend.

Dartmouth has budgeted a record $106 million in financial aid for next school year, the college said in a news release today, an increase of 4.4 percent.

Dartmouth said students who come from families with incomes of $100,000 or less get free tuition for all four years, and that 200 first-year students currently benefit from such aid.

News staff writer John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.