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  August 27, 2001

UConn Draws More Students
From In and Out-of-State

Bill Stennett had toured college campuses in Arizona and Florida, but he wanted to visit Connecticut to see if what he had heard about UConn during a high school college fair was true. He wasn't disappointed.

"When I visited the school, I knew I wanted to go there," the Delray Beach, Fla., resident says.

A new building for the School of Business, one of the most technologica lly advanced business schools in the country, helped lure the future business law major to Storrs. Speaking with Jennifer Staak, the recruiter from the admissions office who visited Florida last spring, also made a difference.

"She really sold me on it," he says.

Sunday, Stennett joined about 3,100 other freshmen - nearly 30 percent of them from out of state - as they worked through their first full day as the Class of 2005, learning the campus layout, participating in a discussion of The MisMeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould, taking care of unfinished business, and enjoying their first collegiate block party on Fairfield Way.

"Our academic reputation has been growing in-state for the past five years," says Dolan Evanovich, associate provost for enrollment management, "and it's only reasonable that increasing numbers of high-achieving students outside Connecticut will make UConn their top choice."

Building on the University's growing reputation, Evanovich says, UConn admissions officials have been more aggressive in recruiting out-of-state students, especially in New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and California.

"Besides the obvious economic gain to the University through out-of-state tuition revenues, bringing in more students from outside Connecticut enhances our geographic diversity and gives Connecticut students an idea of how people live in other parts of the country," Evanovich says. "And, since research clearly shows that most students get jobs and remain in the state that is home to their alma mater, bringing students into Connecticut pays long-term economic dividends. It's the reverse of the 'brain-drain ' this state experienced in the early to mid-1990s."

UConn has been successfully reversing that "brain-drain" - the loss of Connecticut's high school students to colleges and employment in other states - since 1997, when the number of in-state students enrolling here began increasing. Since then, overall undergraduate enrollment has increased more than 25 percent, the number of minority freshmen has increased by 40 percent, and the number of out-of-state students attending UConn has increased annually.

The growth in numbers has been achieved at the same time as an increase in the average Scholastic Aptitude Test score. Since 1997, the average SAT score for new students has gone up by 30 points, to 1142 this year, says Evanovich.

Responding to enrollment growth is a priority, and funding is being directed to areas most in need, President Philip Austin told UConn's Board of Trustees last month.

"It is critical that we continue to offer academic programs and student services of the size and scope required to maintain standards of excellence," he said. "We are allocating resources thoughtfully and strategically to assure that this occurs."

"Certainly, our remarkable growth imposes challenges, but these challenges are the result of our success," says Austin. "We have become a school of choice, characterized by a highly talented, diverse student body. Our residence halls are full and our classes are at or near capacity. This is a reflection of the national perception of quality at this institution. We are using our resources efficiently, and we are taking every possible step to enhance revenues so that we can continue to meet our objectives."

Although enrollment has been increasing, UConn remains one of the smaller major public research universities, a fact that was not lost on Marissa Cirillo, an Agoura Hills, Calif., resident who moved in on Saturday.

"UConn's a good size for me," she says. "I wanted a school that offered the academic areas I'm interested in - political science and social work, that has a lot of school spirit, and that offers volunteer opportunities."

Cirillo says she also wants to extend her knowledge of the country and "to see how other people live."

The new faces of UConn, geographically and ethnically, should give Cirillo and her peers in the Class of 2005 plenty of opportunity for that.

Richard Veilleux

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