University Provost Michael Kotlikoff presented a plan to expand student housing and advance academic initiatives at a Graduate and Professional Student Assembly meeting Monday.
The plan aims to solve two problems — deferred capital investment and academic investment — due to constrained budgets and high sophomore housing demand, according to Kotlikoff.
Kotlikoff said the plan will “invest in facilities, curriculum initiatives and housing initiatives.” He outlined plans to alleviate housing demand by building new dorms on North Campus and encouraging the townhouses to become part of a “sophomore village.”
Overall, the capital project seeks to add 1,250 beds and a new dining hall to North campus by the year 2020.
The project’s goal is to create more housing options for sophomores — as currently about 60 percent of sophomores reside in Cornell housing — and open up living opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
The plan does not end on North Campus. Details of the housing plan include goals to renovate Balch Hall and to partner with other facilities to improve and expand opportunities for Collegetown housing.
The housing plan initiative is also projected to increase the freshman class by 250 to 275 students. Plans to address the repercussions of higher student admissions are also underway, including ways to fix the “gateway course issue,” a problem when students cannot get into introductory level classes because they fill to capacity.
In the past, Cornell has tried to maintain a policy of only accepting as many students as North Campus can hold. However, this policy becomes difficult with new majors and, this year, the creation of the College of Business. Essentially, Kotlikoff said new academic initiatives create demand for more students.
“The faculty to student ratio [in the College of Arts and Sciences] is the highest it has ever been in 20 years,” Kotlikoff said.
The plan must deal with navigating increased student growth, as Kotlikoff acknowledges the potential for increased class sizes and exacerbated “gateway course” issues.
Discussions on the initiative have been taking place since the fall of 2015 and now final reports have been issued to move forward on the initiative.
A previous version of this story misquoted Provost Michael Kotlikoff as asserting that Cornell’s faculty to student ratio is the highest it has been in 20 years. In fact, he was speaking about the College of Arts and Sciences.