Steffaney Wood

Senior Staff Writer

As the largest class in the history of the college, the 513 members of the Class of 2019 are part of the college’s plan to eventually expand to a student body of 2,000. Although this first-year class only has nine more enrolled students than a year ago, this gradual increase represents the new ideal number of incoming students. The decision to expand the college came about as a result of wanting to increase overall diversity and become more similar in size to peer institutions. A total of 2,000 students will leave roughly 1,850 on campus at any given time, accounting for those who are studying abroad and living off-campus. “The number of new students is decided in collaboration with a number of people and divisions within the Davidson community, with Admissions, Academic Affairs, Student Life, Residence Life, Business and Finance, International Education, and Athletics all involved,” said Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Christopher Gruber. The deliberate expansion of the student body also comes with a commitment to an increased number of faculty, classrooms, and residence halls. Aspects of this commitment can be seen through the recent addition of Chidsey Residence Hall in 2012 and the current construction of the New Academic Building, adjacent to the Martin Chemical Laboratory. Currently, the impact of the 513 students in the first-year class has resulted in two sets of triples dorm rooms. Dean of Students Tom Shandley said, “I think people like being a small college and we don’t have any plans to change that. If we grow even slightly it gives us more opportunities to bring in students from different backgrounds. We’ve expanded the number of students from different states, more students from other countries and a variety of other countries than we’ve [previously] had. It opens up the door to more possibilities in a class, and I think this class shows that.” Increased diversity of the college has in part come about as a result of nonprofit organizations QuestBridge and The Posse Foundation. QuestBridge acts to connect high-achieving, low-income high school students with opportunities at top colleges and universities. The college became a QuestBridge partner school with 19 QuestBridge Scholars in the Class of 2017. The Class of 2019 includes the first group of Posse Scholars from Miami, Florida. The Posse Foundation brings together a multicultural group of ten students from public high schools in the same metropolitan area to attend the same college or university. The college works specifically with the Posse STEM Program for students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, which offers the typical Posse programming plus a two-week immersion program, a STEM faculty mentor, and research and internship opportunities. “If we want to succeed in scientific discovery in this country, we need to include people who have been excluded. What we do well for students who are excluded, we do well for everyone,” said Academic Dean Wendy Raymond in an interview after her appointment to the National Science Foundation’s Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering. Overall, the Class of 2019 includes students from 47 states and 23 countries, with the greatest concentration from the Southeast United States based on the location of the high school. Out of 5,382 applicants 1,195 were accepted, resulting in about a 22.2-percent acceptance rate. Students’ ethnic backgrounds comprise Caucasian (67.8%), black/African American (8.4%), Hispanic/Latino (7.8%), International (7.0%), and Asian American.