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May 23, 1996

Pitt's undergraduate enrollment applications are up 22% this year

From a stagnant Pitt budget point of view, you could never have too many students. But from a packed University Library System (ULS) point of view, you could definitely have too many books.

Both were major topics of discussion at the May 17 Board of Trustees' academic affairs committee meeting. First, the academic affairs committee heard a report that Pitt's undergraduate applications are up 22 percent for the 1996-97 school year, possibly ending three straight years of stable or declining numbers. Later in the meeting, the ULS's need for more room to hold an overflow of books was discussed.

The applications increase is large for one year, according to committee chairperson Martha Munsch, a Pittsburgh attorney. Applications have increased by almost 2,000, from 9,278 as compared to 7,628 at this time last year. And the number of undergraduates that have already put down deposits has also increased, from 2,408 on May 9, 1995 to 2,730 on the same day this year.

Undergraduates have been a hot topic for the Board of Trustees since Fisher finished his report in January. At a full board meeting the following month, chairperson J.W. Connolly called for higher standards in selecting students, including an increase in the minimum SAT requirement.

In addition to the report on the applications increase, the academic affairs committee heard a report on ULS space problems from ULS assistant director Pamela Vance. Vance delivered the report on behalf of ULS director Rush Miller, who was out of town. The trustees' committee gave unanimous approval to a proposal for additional space for the ULS. The proposal calls for the construction of a 100,000 square-foot addition to Hillman Library, renovation of the existing Hillman Library and construction of a high-density library storage facility with a capacity of two million volumes.

Unveiled by Miller at the January meeting of Senate Council's plant utilization and planning committee (PUP), the proposal is designed to meet library space needs through 2015, by which time it is anticipated electronic publishing will have replaced much of the current print material. Hillman's collection has reached 180 percent of capacity. The library was designed in the 1960s to hold 1 million volumes and now houses 1.8 million. (See University Times Jan. 18.) Last year, Miller told PUP, ULS had to send 20,000 books to its storage facility at the University of Pittsburgh Applied Research Center in Harmar Township. That facility also is rapidly filling.

–Mark Gordon and Mike Sajna

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