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Stanford wants to expand undergrad enrollment

Original post made on Apr 19, 2013

Stanford University wants to expand its undergraduate enrollment if it can raise the money to build housing for the additional students, President John Hennessy said Thursday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 19, 2013, 9:57 AM

Comments (15)

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Posted by Robert
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 10:48 am

EXACTLY WHY is it that President Hennessy is proposing to increase the undergraduate student body (unless he's actually announcing a decision that he and/or the Board of Trustees has already been made)? An important thing that differentiates Stanford from places like Cal is the relatively small size of its undergraduate student body, and the relatively personal character of the education offered that that relatively small size makes possible. 6,500 undergrads is a lot different than 20-30k, and not just quantitatively. Unless I missed something, the only reason the President gave is a desire to "rebalance" undergraduate and graduate enrollments, here by increasing undergraduate enrollment. That doesn't seem to me to be a solid reason at all. What harm is it doing to have 2-2.5k more grad students than undergrad students? I don't see any. 2,500 more undergrads will inevitably mean more traffic on campus, more congestion on campus (including bicycle congestion), and more Stanford open green space turned into buildings and concrete and parking lots. The size of the faculty will also have to be increased unless Stanford Introductory Seminars (Freshman and Sophomore Seminars), another important differentiating feature of Stanford, won't be extended to the new students. Stanford faculty are already running at full speed doing all that they are, from teaching, advising, mentoring, and research to fundraising and serving on myriad committees, at Stanford and outside. They cannot teach the additional seminars to cover the new students. New faculty will have to be hired. Lecture classes are likely to get larger, also not a good thing. That too would move Stanford in the direction of Cal, with more and more very large lecture classes whose sections are run by TAs. The only other whiff of a reason for wanting to increase undergrad enrollment is that Stanford's admissions acceptance rate is now down below 10%. So what? It's great that Stanford admits a highly selective class of students each year. Being able to raise the admissions acceptance rate from about 6% just doesn't sound to me like a good reason for increasing the size of the undergraduate student body from about 6,500 to about 9,000. Maybe there are good reasons that I missed or that weren't stated in the President's address. If so, I'd like to know them. But, for now, I just don't see that Pres. Hennessy has made a compelling case for substantially increasing the size of the undergraduate student body at Stanford and blurring the distinction between Stanford and the much larger public universities and the radically different kinds of educational experience they offer. WHY IS ADDING A QUARTER TO THE SIZE OF THE UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT BODY A DESIRABLE GOAL? when its institutional and environmental costs are many, substantial, and apparent, while the benefits would seem to be those realized by the additional students admitted and the achievements of the new faculty hired to educate them? Perhaps this "goal" is actually a means for expanding the size of the faculty. If so, that should be made explicit. Stanford should think long, hard, and critically about President Hennessy's proposal before adopting his proposal as its new policy.


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Posted by The-Sky's-The-Limit
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 10:53 am

If Stanford adds 200 undergrad students a year for the next 100 years, that will increase the undergrand population by 20,000 students.

That seems like a lot of expansion, dosen't it?


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2013 at 10:56 am

Really - he is looking to increase the enrollment by a few hundred only. This is not going to affect the education or the environment for the undergrads at all.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

"...IF it can raise the money to build housing..."
Stanford has a relatively small undergrad student body, true, but it is a VERY RICH university! - I have a hard time seeing the fundraising as anything other than another excuse for fundraising in general.
I think they took in the most of any university in the last year - a fact that was proudly trumpeted, and now they need to do MORE fundraising? Talk about the 1% with their severe difficulties.
btw other schools have high quality freshman seminars, too.


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Posted by mickrussom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Seems the upper echelons of society are getting larger while the middle class is being killed off. More rich entitled royalty must be rubber stamped.


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Posted by Susan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Unless Stanford is willing to bear the burden of growth and have thoroughfares running through their campus, they must not be allowed to have more students. Widen Junipero Serra and open up Frenchman's Road so it goes to the middle of campus, in other words, make it so THEIR people can get to THEIR campus without putting the burden on the surrounding neighborhoods.

What does 200 students mean? It would be 200 cars and another 50 or so Stanford employees and their families and their cars who would support the 200 students—that's faculty and staff, independent contractors, ups deliveries, IT support, food services, you get the picture. Cars. Cars. Cars. It's time Stanford opens a satellite campus in Hollister and returns to the farm.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm

To achieve "rough parity with graduate enrollment", Stanford would need to add 1,869 undergrad students. Stanford owns the land, so let's assume $50k/student to build the housing. That'd cost $93M, or 0.55% of Stanford's endowment. Charging each kid $500/month for 9 months a year, brings in $8.4M/year. My point is, does Stanford really need "a few people who are sufficiently enthusiastic" to pay for this?


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Posted by Sic transit gloria mundi
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Someone in this forum once described Stanford as "metastasizing." A very apt description. You can hardly walk or drive anywhere, including in Menlo Park, that you don't see a building that holds a Stanford project.
This once beloved and respected university has become a development nightmare. The campus itself is unrecognizable from just a few years ago.
And we aren't nearly done with them yet. Big big 27 University is still on the docket.
Their endowment is 17 B-i-l-l-i-o-n dollars.


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Posted by kbbl
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm

(I graduated Stanford a decade ago on a full scholarship. Lived in Palo Alto 2 years after. Now I live in San Francisco. )

mickrussom, I resent your presumption that everyone who attends Stanford is a privileged airhead. Sure, they exist — someone has to come about and pay full fare so those of us of meager means and great talent can get a great learning experience. Plus how else is someone supposed to learn how to put up with the airheads if not at close quarters?

Susan? I lived on campus for 4 years without a car. I took Caltrain and Marguerite when I needed to; today's students have carshare programs they can access. Your 1-car-per-student assumption is adorably out of touch. I invite you to move to Hollister. It's quite pretty down there!


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Posted by Poor English Unwanted
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 20, 2013 at 12:38 am

Those who post rants without any paragraphs must realize that most readers skip over long postings as such so while it may be beneficial for one to feel better by venting, most read it. Especially in this age of Twitter.


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Posted by David
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm

If you add more students, then more students will be accepted. How will the spoilt feel special if more people attend? Elitism is a birth right, please keep Stanford special. (add sarcasm)


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Hey I think Stanford wanting to add more students are a good thing, yes housing, transit and other growth issues need to talking about and of course planned. Yes it will mean more building, but I think if Stanford will make it work for the students and the rest of us.

We have all benefited off Stanford in more ways then one.


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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Where will they live? Perhaps new housing in the hills? The land does belong to Stanford.

Obviously Robert the writer of the first posting never graduated from Stanford his posting is soooo poorly written with no paragraphs. Go back to school, you need some help.


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Posted by so poor...
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm

So, Stanford trolling is for more money.

Some facts:

Stanford has an endowment exceeding $17B

Annual donations to the school exceeded $1B last year

Operating costs last year were about $4.4B

But a few "sufficiently enthusiastic" donors are needed to make this happen? Really?


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Posted by aaron
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

This is a good idea, it's gotten so that Stanford has to reject more well-qualified applicants than it accepts. With a 5.7 percent acceptance rate, the admissions office has to spend most of its time looking for reasons NOT to admit great kids who would contribute to the community. A controlled increase in undergraduate enrollment is warranted.


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