Expansion: Proceed With Caution

Rambler Staff Editorial

What should “expansion” mean for Transylvania?

President Owen Williams revealed his intentions to explore expanding Transy’s campus on WKYT’s “Kentucky Newsmakers,” stating, “If we want to be one of the best colleges in the country … it’s going to be important that we continue to expand.

While many aspects of campus not only need but deserve “expansion,” too much of an increase in enrollment has the potential to sacrifice some of our community’s most appealing attributes.

Out of the 12 students, both males and females from all four academic years, polled in this week’s “Transy Says,” only Tyler Starrett ’14 showed support for an increase of class size. Even so, Starrett only advocated “moderate expansion,” saying it would be “OK.” From this, we can infer that most students would probably starkly oppose expansion in this sense, and even those that might support a moderate expansion would do so with reservations.

The majority of students’ decisions to enroll at Transylvania in the first place were fueled by the small student body and intimate contact with the faculty and staff here. Even if the number of faculty members were also increased, increasing the number of students at Transy by too much could lead to unintended consequences, such as engorged classrooms in some of the more historically popular fields of study.

Also, enrollment expansion could deter those prospective students who actively seek out a small learning environment from even considering Transy as an option for their postsecondary education. As a result, Transylvania could experience radical shifts in the type and caliber of students it attracts if we’re not careful. As strong as the Transy community is now, why would we desire such shifts?

Given the possible negative consequences of student body expansion at Transy, The Rambler holds that other ways exist to “expand” our campus and improve our national reputation while maintaining the intimate environment we currently enjoy. For example, we could expand research and publication opportunities on our campus, which might involve building or renovating research facilities, increasing access to funding for student research or better educating students on the publication process.
Additionally, we could continue to raise our already-high admissions standards to further improve our reputation for high-achieving students. Neither of these options would involve an increase in the current student body population.

That said, The Rambler would not oppose small increases in the student population, especially if that increase were the result of greater international or nonwhite student enrollment. However, the pursuit of student body expansion should be slow, cautious and particularly sensitive to the desires and concerns of the current Transy community, as such expansion could greatly alter the experience of life at this university.

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