Princeton University impacts our town more than any other institution, and in 2015, the University is seeking to create a new strategic plan to organize the next chapter in its history. The University has just set up a new website at this link, which aims to inform and involve stakeholders about the planning process.
On the front page, we see President Eisgruber, who is just back from another schmoozing trip to Princeton Council. He frames the strategic planning process as addressing four key questions. One of these questions is, of course, the question of expansion. Or specifically, “How can Princeton enable more undergraduate and graduate students to contribute to the world?”
This question, phrased in this way, will come as a surprise to nobody who has been following Eisgruber’s public appearances since he took over the top job in P.U. last year. He’s been telling anyone who will listen that the University is conducting a ‘listening exercise’ about expanding student numbers. It’s almost as if a decision has already been made, and he has taken it upon himself to build a consensus for why it’s a good idea.
That’s not to say that everybody does think it’s a good idea to expand the student body. Even the Daily Princetonian had an editorial arguing against it, and you don’t have to go far in the town to find residents who think the University is already too big and has an undue influence on planning. On the other hand, a larger Princeton University could be a good thing. To limit the size of the University is to limit good jobs in the local economy, and- more pertinently- to limit the ability of a successful college to contribute to the sum of human learning.
The question is- how would expansion be achieved? Will it be by growing the University’s facilities in faceless office parks off Route 1? Or will the University decide to develop its large land holdings south of Lake Carnegie? Where will future students and staff live, and how will they get to work? These are questions that the plan will hopefully address, and hopefully lots of people will give feedback. But there’s no rush- the planning exercise isn’t scheduled to conclude until early 2016.
Do you see expansion of Princeton University as a good or bad thing? What changes would improve the University, and how could those changes also benefit the town of Princeton? Have your say in the comments section below!