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  August 28, 2000

Incoming Class Poised for Greatness

There's good reason to expect great things from the new class of students entering the University.

One medical student has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak. Another is a gymnast on the U.S. national team. A female graduate student, who was selected from among 100,000 students in her native China to receive one of just five awards for excellence, is also a champion high jumper; and another graduate student, who will study theoretical mathematics at UConn, not only achieved a near perfect GPA but played varsity softball at another Big East school. New students at the law school include an international developer in Moldova, an obstetrician, and a professional bike racer and entrepreneur.

What's more, 34 high school valedictorians are among the freshmen arriving at the University this fall.

All these are signs that more and more top students are making UConn their school of choice.

Storrs & Regional Campuses
This year's freshman class, like the two previous ones, has a higher academic profile and is more diverse than last year's class, according to Dolan Evanovich, associate provost for enrollment management. By design, he says, fewer freshmen were accepted at the main campus, while numbers are up at the regional campuses.

Admission deposits at the Storrs campus were 2,940, as of Aug. 21. This includes a 9.7 percent increase in underrepresented minority students and a five-point increase in SAT scores. The average SAT score is 1140. Also, for the second consecutive year, UConn boasts a growing number of valedictorians - up from 26 in 1999 to 34 this year.

"We made a conscious decision to limit growth at Storrs to make sure that we had enough housing and classes to accommodate students who were admitted to the main campus," Evanovich says. "Consequently, we increased our recruitment and marketing efforts to encourage students to start their education at a regional campus, and we are very pleased that the regional campuses' freshmen enrollment is up 7.8 percent," he says.

The diversity of the entering class at all campuses has increased, Evanovich says. Preliminary numbers indicate that approximately 18 percent of the freshman class are students of color, and 30 percent of the class is from out-of-state.

Schools of Medicine & Dental Medicine
The medical school's incoming class of 79 medical students has an impressive record of academic achievements.

"This is a strong and diverse group of students in terms of age, ethnicity, race and academic backgrounds," says Keat Sanford, director of medical student affairs. Continuing recent trends, there are a few more women in the medical school class and 15 percent of the students come from underrepresented minority groups.

This year's medical school class includes 13 UConn graduates, a number higher than in previous years. The class also includes students from some of the nation's other finest universities and colleges.

While 82 percent of the students are from Connecticut, others hail from various corners of the globe, including China, Romania, Tanzania, Australia and Hungary. The average age in the class is 24; the oldest student is 41 and the youngest is 20.

Also at the Health Center, a new generation of dental students - literally - started classes this week. Of the 39 students in the new class, two are the children of UConn dental school alumni and nearly one-third are the children of practicing dentists from other parts of the country.

"This is the best compliment we can get," says Edward Thibodeau, director of dental student affairs.

The new dental school class includes 12 Connecticut residents and nine other New England residents. The UConn School of Dental Medicine is the only publicly funded dental school in New England, Thibodeau notes.

He says the percentage of underrepresented minority students jumped to 11 percent this year, which is well above the national average for dental schools. Also, the new class has a strong academic record. In total, the class is in the 85-90th percentile of all dental school applicants.

Graduate School
Preliminary numbers for graduate students entering the University including masters, Ph.D. degrees and non-degree students, appear to be on par with last year's. "My expectations are that we'll be pretty stable," says James Henkel, associate vice provost, research and graduate education.

Henkel notes that in general, fewer people are applying to graduate school because of a flourishing economy. "People are in high demand today. They don't see the need to go back for more classes," he says. But the quality of students is every bit as high as it has been, he adds. Diversity continues to increase, keeping the trend of the past 10 years. Numbers of international students continue to rise, with an expected 260 new students coming to campus from around the world, Henkel says: "Word is out that this is a good place to be."

School of Law
In the School of Law, expectations are that enrollment will include about 125 day division students and 65 part-time or evening students.

"These students are highly qualified," says Ellen Rutt, associate dean of admissions and career services. "We had a huge applicant pool so this is the cream of the crop."

Last year's applications for admission reflected the largest increase of any law school in the nation. "I was concerned that this year that number might drop precipitously and we would see that we had just a one-year aberration," Rutt says. "In fact, we had almost exactly the same number of applications this year. We were quite gratified."

She also notes the diverse backgrounds of the students. "We have dozens of different undergraduate majors represented in the class, people of a variety of ages, students with advanced degrees and interesting work experience," Rutt says. "We are very pleased with the quality, caliber and diversity of this year's entering class."

Sherry Fisher
Maureen McGuire