Report from the Presidential Task Force on Enrollment Expansion

To the Dartmouth community,

In August, with the support and encouragement of the Board of Trustees, I charged the Presidential Task Force on Enrollment Expansion to explore the benefits and challenges associated with increasing the size of the undergraduate student body. Specifically, the charge to this group was to develop a hypothetical implementation plan for growth of the undergraduate student body, thereby revealing the many areas, including housing, instructional staffing, and essential student services, that would need to be considered in undertaking an enrollment expansion. 

The task force completed its work and the group's findings are detailed in the final report, presented here. The trustees and I extend our most sincere thanks to the members of the task force and, in particular, to its co-chairs—Dean of the Faculty Elizabeth Smith and Dean of the College Rebecca Biron—for their leadership.

It is incumbent upon the trustees to routinely consider long-term strategic issues such as quality, scale, and breadth as we work to emphasize the distinctive quality of the Dartmouth experience and enhance our reputation, competitiveness, and impact in the world. Such issues are complex and require deep study. I'm grateful to the task force for examining the financial implications, soliciting input from our campus community as well as from our higher education peers, and enabling a discussion grounded in fact and guided by evidence.

The trustees ultimately decided, based on my recommendation, that the undergraduate student body should remain at its current level. Both my recommendation and the subsequent decision by the trustees were informed by this report, which will continue to serve as a valuable tool for any future considerations of enrollment scale.

The task force report identified several areas for proactive investment in our current infrastructure, regardless of any future increase in the size of the undergraduate student body. These areas include the need for additional student housing, classroom upgrades, more and improved faculty office space, additional parking, and increased mental health services. I'm pleased to share some of the efforts already underway to address these items.

  • We are exploring sites on which to build additional residence halls to ease the strain on student housing and provide the swing space necessary to renovate aging dormitories.
  • The ongoing renovation of Dana Hall will provide additional faculty office space, parking, and outdoor green space.
  • The planned expansion and relocation of computer science and the entrepreneurial enterprise to a proposed new building to be shared with engineering will open classroom and office space in Sudikoff and office space in 4 Currier, where the DEN is currently located. Included in this project is a doubling of the number of parking spots in the west end.
  • At its March meeting, the board approved funds to turn vacated administrative space into classroom and other learning spaces in Blunt Alumni Center, which will continue to house the Office of Alumni Relations.
  • We continue to have emergency counselors on call 24 hours a day, and over the last year we have implemented a much-used triage system that allows any student, in a non-emergency situation, to see a mental health counselor within several days. In addition to these steps, enhancement of student mental health services is one of the priorities in the upcoming capital campaign.
  • We are increasing the amount budgeted for renewal of facilities by $1.5 million a year and directing this funding to projects that will improve academic and infrastructure facilities. The budget is shy of what is needed to correct the renewal backlog, but this annual increase will make a significant difference over time.

The investment opportunities above, responding to needs highlighted in the Task Force Report, are but a subset of those that we are making across the institution. This is a period of historic investment in meeting current campus needs and pursuing bold ambitions for the future of Dartmouth. Each of you has a role to play in that effort, and I look forward to your continued partnership and collaboration.


Phil Hanlon '77

See the full report here.