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The second-smallest Ivy League school is about to get a little bigger. The Princeton University Board of Trustees unanimously approved a recommendation last weekend to increase the size of the undergraduate student body by about 10 percent -- or 500 students -- from 4,600 to 5,100 students. A committee led by trustee and 1955 graduate Paul Wythes convened in the fall of 1997 to explore ways to enhance the quality of education and make more effective use of the school's resources. In January, the committee proposed the 500-student increase and the construction of a new residential college to accommodate the growth. According to Princeton Vice President and Secretary Thomas Wright, the increase in the student body size will not begin for another three or four years, until additional dormitory and dining space has been constructed. "We have to have the physical resources for the new students, and it's something that the university is studying right now," Princeton spokeswoman Marilyn Marks said. Wright noted that "it's not a very large increase. It will be slightly more than 1 percent each year after 30 years of no change." According to Wright, the trustees and faculty agreed that a goal of increasing the student population should be to enhance the diversity and intellectual vitality of the student body. He added that there is a general acceptance and understanding among faculty and students of the reasons for the increase in size, but there are also concerns that the increase might adversely affect the quality of the undergraduate experience. "Princeton will remain significantly smaller than most of the institutions that we compete with," Wright said. "[The increase] will not change either the reality or the experience of the undergraduate education here." Princeton has a total of 6,300 undergraduate and graduate students, making it the second-smallest Ivy League school. Dartmouth College is the smallest. Wright said he does not expect a significant change in the number of faculty members. The size of the faculty has been growing very gradually and will continue to expand at the same rate of about 1 percent each year, Wright added. "We expect a disproportionate increase in faculty size," he said, adding that there will likely be more hiring of faculty in departments with the largest undergraduate enrollments and either no increases or slight decreases in faculty size in other departments. "To some extent, [the changes will be] a matter of balance between the size of the faculty and the size of the undergraduate student body," Wright said, noting that the faculty-student ratio will remain the same. Princeton may also see an increase in the number of graduate students admitted to some departments -- especially the ones that have a large number of majors, where additional assistants in instruction and research are needed.

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