updated 2/20/2008 7:49:40 PM ET 2008-02-21T00:49:40

Yale University is moving forward with plans to build two residential colleges, an expansion that could lead to the largest increase in the student body since the Ivy League college began admitting women in 1969.

Yale President Richard Levin sent a statement to faculty and students this week citing the benefits of the proposal after a study group completed a one-year evaluation.

Yale has 12 residential colleges, a system designed to give students a small-college experience within the larger university. The colleges were last expanded in the 1960s.

The new colleges would allow Yale to ease crowding and increase its undergraduate enrollment to about 6,000 students, up 12 to 13 percent from 5,300, Levin said.

Levin promised to address student concerns about the project. Some students have worried that new colleges would diminish the intimacy and quality of the Yale experience, he wrote.

Levin said he would suggest at a board meeting this week that officials develop a budget and a fundraising plan to pay for the expansion before he seeks final approval of the project in June from the university's board of trustees.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano said Wednesday he supports the proposal. "It will create additional economic activity, it will strengthen the university," he said.

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