Lehigh will begin gradually increasing the size of the student body next academic year by adding 135 students to the typical class size of about 1,275 undergraduates.
Director of Admissions Bruce Bunnick said despite the increase, Lehigh will not lose its selectivity. With increased efforts to draw in students from across the country and around the world, Bunnick said admissions counselors are trying to create a campus that reflects a diverse society.
“We are really looking at new and emerging markets on the West Coast because we are very committed to increasing the diversity on this campus,” Bunnick said.
Bunnick said the Admissions Office aims to expand not just domestically, but internationally as well.
Julia Kemp, ’22, a first-year student, said she is excited about the expansion, however, she is concerned about how growth will impact the university as a whole. She said Lehigh’s size was something that drew her in during the college-search process.
“It seems as if this campus size works very well with the number of people who go here right now,” Kemp said. “So, I’m interested to see how the logistics play out by adding more students.”
Despite logistical concerns, Director of Housing Ozzie Breiner said the university is working to offset issues that might arise.
“Some of the upperclassmen students who will be displaced will filter into Southside Commons as we make room on campus for more first- and second-year students,” he said.
Breiner said there will be fewer on-campus housing options available for juniors and seniors next year because housing first- and second-year students is his first obligation.
However, he said this lack of on-campus housing for upperclassmen should only be an issue for one year since the Bridge West dorms are expected to be complete by the fall 2020 semester.
Breiner said Bridge West is a two-phase project.
The first phase of the project is the construction of new dorms where the Kappa Delta house used to be located. He said these dorms will house approximately 407 underclassmen.
The second phase of construction will take place where Trembley Park is currently located. Breiner said it is still unclear when Trembley will be torn down.
Bunnick said the expansion is something the entire student body and faculty should be excited about.
“There is a lot of value in increasing diversity of thought and background,” he said. “So layered in all these efforts, we are cognizant of reaching out beyond our traditional markets into secondary and tertiary domestic markets:”