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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Princeton president says elite school is ‘inclined’ to expand undergrad enrollment

Photo: Nick Anderson
"Christopher L. Eisgruber, Princeton's 20th president, talks with The Washington Post." according to Nick Anderson, Reporter — Washington, D.C.

Commencement at Princeton University in New Jersey in June 2013. 
Photo: Washington Post

In his conversation with The Post, Eisgruber indicated that he is striving to make his top-ranked university more accessible but that he also is a fervent guardian of the traditions of a liberal arts education.

Princeton University, one of the world’s most selective schools, is considering what would be the second significant expansion of its undergraduate enrollment since the turn of the century.

Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber (Denise Applewhite/Princeton University)

Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber, who took office in July 2013, said Tuesday the Ivy League university in New Jersey is examining whether to launch another round of growth several years after its undergraduate population rose more than 10 percent.

“I am inclined to do this,” Eisgruber said during a visit to The Washington Post on Tuesday. “I think it’s important.” He said no decisions have been made. But he cited expansion plans at Yale and Stanford, two of Princeton’s peers, saying that elite private institutions can grow without sacrificing quality.

“At our level of higher education, the problem isn’t affordability,” he said. “Our students graduate with very little debt. … The problem is scarcity. And if we can do something about it, we should.”

From 2001 to 2006, federal data show, Princeton’s undergraduate enrollment averaged about 4,700. It then rose steadily, crossing 5,000 for the first time in fall 2009. In the past three years, Princeton’s undergraduate total has settled at an average of about 5,350...

Many analysts in recent years have suggested that online education will “disrupt” higher education. Princeton, too, is participating in an experiment with massive open online courses, known as MOOCs, on the Web site called Coursera. It offers free online courses from name-brand universities to the world.

But Eisgruber seems somewhat skeptical of predictions of an online education revolution.

“A couple of years ago, if I were going to have a conversation with just about anybody about education and what was happening, it would all be about ‘the online,'” Eisgruber said. “The enthusiasm and the hype that existed a couple years ago has been tempered by some of the results that we’re seeing across higher education.”

Source: Washington Post