Millsaps College prides itself on its small size. Our small size makes it possible for our faculty, staff, and students to get to know each other. Yet in some ways we are too small. We compete for students by offering a broad range of academic programming. Yet we struggle to maintain a critical mass in some majors and programs, while the proliferation of majors and programs complicates scheduling. A comparison with peer institutions is telling. Millsaps enrolls 1,013 undergraduates and 105 graduate students. They are taught by 97 full-time professors who support 39 majors and 41 minors. Sewanee has 1,420 undergraduates and 80 graduate students with 127 full-time professors offering 35 departmental majors, 8 interdisciplinary majors, and 26 minors. Rhodes enrolls 1,685 students and offers 24 departmental majors, 8 pre-professional programs, and 35 minors. In other words, Millsaps offers approximately the same number of majors and minors as Sewanee and a few more than Rhodes, with a significantly smaller student body.
Size matters. Our relatively small size means that some of our majors do not have enough students to be sustainable. Our small size also means that even large departments struggle to offer enough required classes for majors (plus core classes) while maintaining a sufficient number of specialized, upper-level classes to attract and retain majors. Departments and divisions bend over backwards to avoid scheduling conflicts, sometimes to accommodate only one or two students. A larger student body, with a proportionally larger faculty, would help us to worry less about sustaining departments and programs and would also alleviate concerns about scheduling conflicts. Of course, we could not increase the student body by admitting unqualified students. Could we widen the pool of qualified applicants? I like to think that we could. I propose that over the course of five years we increase our student enrollment to 1,500 while maintaining admissions standards. Meanwhile, let us increase the size of the faculty proportionally, while imposing a five-year moratorium on the creation of new majors and minors.
Contact person: William Storey
For a PDF of the proposal, click here.
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