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Freshman class includes record total of vals, sals

by Richard Veilleux - August 27, 2007

About 3,200 new freshmen, including a record number of valedictorians and salutatorians, and more than 100 new faculty will kick off the new academic year when classes begin Aug. 27.

The new students were welcomed to campus by President Philip E. Austin during the annual Convocation on Aug. 24. Austin used the occasion to introduce his successor, President-designate Michael Hogan, who officially assumes office in mid-September. Most of the 105 new faculty attended orientation Aug. 23.

“The start of another academic year is always a time of great hope and excitement on the UConn campus,” Austin said last week.

“It has been my great good fortune to serve at a time of tremendous progress, as we moved from a position of regional prominence to true national stature. I know the University will be in great hands under Dr. Hogan’s leadership, and I’m convinced that UConn’s best years lie ahead.”

The latest admissions report confirms that UConn is now recognized nationally: for the 11th consecutive year, applications for the freshman class increased, with 22,353 applicants competing for 3,200 seats at Storrs and about 1,100 at the regional campuses.

And for the third consecutive year, more than half the applicants came from outside Connecticut, though the University will continue to enroll no more than 30 percent of its freshman class from out of state.

Besides President-elect Hogan, new deans are being welcomed to several schools. Jeremy Paul, who assumed his new role April 27, begins his first full year as dean of the School of Law.

Anne Bavier began her stewardship of the School of Nursing Aug. 17.

Christopher Earley (School of Business) and Mun Young Choi (School of Engineering) will arrive in January 2008.

David Cournoyer last month was named interim dean at the School of Social Work, while a search committee works to find a replacement for Kay Davidson, and a search will soon be underway for a successor to Kirklyn Kerr, who has announced he will step down as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the end of the academic year.

The academic credentials of new classes in Storrs and at the regional campuses continue to impress.

A record 146 valedictorians and salutatorians are among the freshmen class, eight of whom will attend a regional campus.

Last year, 105 “vals and sals,” the top ranked students in their high school class, came to UConn. Since 1995, UConn has recruited nearly 1,000 valedictorians and salutatorians.

The Storrs freshman class this year averages about 1192 on the SAT. And the average SAT for the nearly 300 freshmen at the Waterbury campus is about 20 points higher than last year’s entering class.

The 275 freshmen who have registered for the University’s Honors Program boast an average SAT of 1409, an 11-point increase compared to last year.

Additionally, the average GPA for the 700 students who are transferring to Storrs this semester is 3.3. The 230 students transferring into regional campuses average 3.1.

“These students are transferring to UConn because they realize the outstanding quality and value of a UConn degree,” says Dolan Evanovich, vice provost for enrollment management.

Top students also want to attend the law school – the incoming classes’ median LSAT matches the school’s previous high, and nine of the new students scored above 168 on the exam, placing them in the top 4 percent of all students who took the test. Last year, three students had similar test scores.

At the UConn School of Medicine, the average GPA for incoming students is 3.65. It also is one of the school’s most diverse classes, with 21 percent of the 81 students from populations other than white or Asian.

The students earned their undergraduate degrees from 51 different schools, including 19 from UConn, four from Johns Hopkins University, three from Yale, and two each from Princeton and New York University.

The School of Dental Medicine will enroll another 40 first year students – the school’s normal complement.

The cohort scored well in the Dental Admission Test and averaged a 3.5 GPA in their undergraduate schools, where 80 percent majored in science.

Back at Storrs, cranes and construction workers are busy, as the UConn 21st Century program continues.

Adding to the many new buildings erected during the past decade, the next few years will see two new academic buildings on Fairfield Way, which will replace the time-worn Arjona and Monteith buildings; a replacement for Torrey Life Sciences Building; and the renovation and reuse of the old Central Warehouse near the co-generation plant.

On a smaller scale but more immediate, the first phase of a $1.4 million landscaping plan for the Student Union Mall began last week.

The work will include landscape planning, infrastructure improvements (mainly drainage), and topsoil and seeding on the former site of the pharmacy building. A second phase will include the installation of sidewalks and lighting.

Work also will begin soon on exterior renovations to the Wilbur Cross Building, and both interior and exterior work will be done on the 92-year-old Hawley Armory.

Both structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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