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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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June 16, 2024

Making room(s)

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Photo by Photo by Jenny Hollowell

A&M is working to have 25,000 engineering students by the year 2025.

Since the 2013 announcement of the 25 by 25 objective — the plan to have 25,000 students enrolled in the College of Engineering by 2025 — there has been doubt about the university’s ability to handle that many engineering students.                
The College of Engineering needs 6,831 more students to reach its goal of 25,000, and no new dorms currently being planned or built. Additionally, Texas A&M President Michael Young has decided not to drastically increase the overall student population in the coming years, making the project an ambitious goal.
However, the College of Engineering has a plan that circumvents that need — instead of bringing in new students to increase the number enrolled in engineering, it will work to increase retention rates, according to Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of the College of Engineering.
“We only have approximately a 57 to 58 percent retention rate,” Banks said. “We need to make sure that the students who start in engineering have every opportunity to succeed and graduate.”
The College of Engineering plans to increase retention rates to around 75 percent, which would provide the students needed to reach 25,000. The strategy for increasing this rate involves having around 3,100 on-campus students participating in living-learning communities, which are dorms that offer free tutoring and academic-related social events to their residents.
Mark Weichold, professor of electrical and computer engineering, said he helped set up Living-Learning Communities in the past that drastically helped increase retention rates.
“The impact on retention is remarkable,” Weichold said. “Students had a sense of belonging and a sense of shared trials and tribulations for the first semester or so of freshman year.”
According to Weichold, the retention rate soared above 80 percent for students in living-learning communities, which is why the Engineering Department is putting so much emphasis on these residencies.
The plan, according to Banks and Weichold, will not require the construction of any new dorms, nor the influx of new students — instead, existing dorms, mostly on Southside near the Commons, will have living-learning communities in them.
Although there is already such a community in Mosher, Valerie Taylor, senior associate dean for Academic Affairs, said it doesn’t meet the demand of an engineering program of this size.
“We have an engineering living-learning community, currently, but it’s limited to 650 students,” Taylor said. “Starting in the fall of 2017, we can go up to 3,100, which is great, and so for the 3,100, we’re open to incoming freshmen, as well as sophomores, as well as students from our remote sites.”                  
This is all consistent with the university’s plans for the coming years. According to Carol Binzer, director of administrative and support services in the Department of Residence Life, the university has handled, and will continue to handle its marginal growth in different ways.
“In 2012, just a short time after the University Apartments at the Gardens opened, several of the buildings were designated for upperclass students wishing to stay living on campus,” Binzer said.
According to Binzer, those students were mostly engineering students due to the proximity of that complex to their classes. According to her, White Creek, which opened in 2015, also counts as on-campus housing, but beyond that, the only current construction on campus is renovation work.
In accordance with Young’s plan to limit the influx of new students, the College of Engineering has made it clear that it will only add 852 new undergraduate and graduate students by 2025, according to its official statement on 25 by 25, with many other engineers coming from programs such as the engineering academies.
The key, according to them, is not to add more freshman to the college, but to keep current students enrolled in the program.

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