In his first public statement about expansion of the College, Wilbur J. Bender '27, Dean of Admissions, has warned that expansion "would almost certainly move us in the opposite direction" from the "challenging, individualized education" typified by tutorial instruction, general examinations, and the Houses.
The College needs an additional $75,000,000 for new buildings and endowment just to educate its present enrollment properly, Bender estimated. And "there is nothing in the record of the past 25 years to indicate that . . . the amount needed for significant expansion plus present needs is going to be found by 1970," he added.
Dean Bender, currently on a year's leave of absence to study enrollment problems, made his remarks in a 14-page statement to the CRIMSON. He observed that "we need far more study and discussion . . . about this complex and highly important problem," and expressed the hope that his statement would stimulate further interest in the question.
Maintain High Standards
Bender emphasized that the College, in the event that it cannot expand and still maintain its high standards, should concentrate on giving the best possible education to the students it does admit. "Harvard is not being superior or looking down its nose at others," he says, "when it defines its special role as giving the most challenging, stretching and enriching education it can to a limited number of highly able students."
The College has "a very heavy responsibility" to these bright students that it must not forget as it contemplates expansion, Bender continued. "This superb student body of ours needs and deserves the best we can give them. They will demand a lot of the faculty and of Harvard and will not be satisfied with a mixture of huge lectures, a horde of Teaching Fellows, perfunctory tutorial instruction, jammed libraries and laboratories."
Bender pointed out that the "staggering figures about future college enrollments" are misleading because the overwhelming majority of these students "will not want what Harvard has to offer and would be confused and frustrated by it." Since the College student body is already in the top five per cent of the population in terms of academic ability, some "95 per cent of the 'tidal wave' of college candidates is not part of the potential Harvard clientele," the Dean said. In addition, many of the top five per cent will be girls, many others will want technical or vocational educations, and many of the young men seeking liberal educations will not want to come to Harvard, Bender continued. He estimated, therefore, that applications to the College will not exceed 10,000 to 15,000 a year out of the 2,000,000 college applicants throughout the country.