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  May 15, 2000

Storrs Freshmen Class to Stay Level This Fall

After three years of significant growth in the freshman class, the number of incoming freshmen in the fall is expected to be around the same as it was this year. But the statistics continue to show increases in the SAT scores of the incoming class and in the diversity of its makeup.

"We made a conscious strategic decision to limit growth at the Storrs campus this fall, to make sure that we have enough class sections and enough housing to accommodate our students," says Dolan Evanovich, associate provost for enrollment management. "But our goal has always been to attract better and more diverse students, and the preliminary numbers look very strong in both areas."

Susan Steele, vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction, says the long-term goal is to achieve a total student population of about 25,000, including undergraduates at Storrs and the regional campuses and graduate students. The goal, set a couple of years ago by the president and the chancellor, was developed in consultation with the Board of Trustees, the deans, the regional campuses and the chancellor's staff.

"We know we're small as a Research I university," says Steele. "We knew we had to grow."

The target, she says, is similar to the enrollment in the early 1990s: "We're heading back to where we were, but we're trying to do it with much better planning than we did then."

That planning includes both academic and residential components. Starting from a study of the University's undergraduate capacity, Steele's office has:

  • monitored general education courses, and recently allocated $1 million to ensure that adequate general education classes will be available in the fall;

  • with the support of Facilities Management, conducted an inventory of classrooms to ensure the right mix of large and small classrooms to accommodate the anticipated student population;

  • through the Institute for Teaching and Learning, worked with faculty members to use technology to support teaching without increasing the workload;

  • worked with the deans to target new faculty hires to respond to student demand;

  • supported the initiative of the Honors Program to introduce more varied opportunities for honors students to earn credit, by taking part in selected educational opportunities - such as lectures, conferences and cultural events - outside the classroom.

The goal for this year's freshman class is 2,960. So far, 2,946 students have paid their deposits, a sign of their intention to come to UConn. Offers of admission to Storrs for freshmen were cut off in March. Within the next few years, the goal is for freshman admissions at Storrs to level out at 3,200.

The mean SAT score this year is 1,143, up six points from this time last year. Class rank is also up, by one point, at the 77th percentile. A third indicator of the high quality of the incoming class is the number of students who have indicated they're interested in and qualified for the honors program. The number of students admitted into the program is up by 198 at 1,036; of these 287 have paid their deposits, 45 more than last year's total.

The number of students from underrepresented populations also is up from last year: 434 have paid their deposits, an increase of 7.4 percent over last year. "We hope to bring the diversity of the undergraduate population to 20 percent students of color," says Evanovich. "The figure is now 16.5 percent of the total. Our goal is to mirror the state's population, but we still have a little way to go to achieve that."

He says the incoming class will also be more diverse geographically: 923 out-of-state students have paid their deposits, an increase of 14 percent over last year. Evanovich says the goal is to recruit 30 percent of the class from out of state within the next few years: "To be a national university, we need to attract students from all over the nation."

Evanovich attributes the positive trends in admissions at UConn to a number of factors. He says the exposure from the University's athletics program may have piqued interest, but students make their decisions based on the quality of the academic experience, educational value, and the quality of the residence halls and classrooms. "They see all the new buildings," he says. "UConn 2000 has transformed the University from being a back-up school to being a school of choice."

He says one of the reasons for limiting growth this year is the availability of space in the residence halls. Although 1,500 spaces will be offered in new residence halls by fall 2001, this fall there are no new spaces and the residence halls will be at full occupancy. "We plan to grow again in future years," he says, "when new residence halls have been built."

Elizabeth Omara-Otunnu