Earlier this year during Hawk Week, I had the pleasure of visiting with new freshmen at Traditions Night, Common Book discussions and Opening Convocation. That week is among my favorite times of the year because it’s our first chance to get acquainted with our newest Jayhawks and welcome them to our community of scholars.
More recently, we learned that this year’s freshman class is already shaping up to be quite special. First, the Class of 2019 grew to 4,187 students — an increase of 2.5 percent from last year — marking the fourth straight year of freshman class growth. More importantly, this year’s freshmen have the highest average high school GPA and second-highest average ACT score in KU history, as well as the second-highest percentage of minority students on record.
This fourth straight year of freshman class growth, coupled with outstanding talent and diversity, demonstrates that more and more students want to be part of a flagship research university with highly ranked academic programs and unique opportunities for students.
The quality and variety of our offerings appealed to Monica Martinez, a freshman from Topeka who considered four other universities but chose KU because of its unmatched options in Spanish and Latin American studies.
“I researched a number of schools, and KU was the only one that offered the programs I wanted,” Monica said. “I’m interested in pursuing a career in Latin American studies, and KU has the coursework and experiences to prepare me for that.”
We will continue to hone our recruitment efforts with new admissions procedures in 2016, and we will continue to offer students experiences and opportunities they can’t get anywhere else.
This year’s freshman class also includes the largest international student population in KU history, demonstrating that KU has the academic reputation and brand to recruit globally. This continues to differentiate us from other universities in the region and supports our goal of being recognized as a top-tier international research university.
Our graduate programs are also seeing strong results in recruitment. The number of new graduate students recruited to the Lawrence and Edwards campuses was 9 percent higher than last year, following the 7 percent increase from 2013 to 2014. Enrollment at KU Medical Center also grew, which is vital to our ability to educate doctors and health professionals for Kansas.
Our recruitment success didn’t just happen; we have made purposeful changes to the ways we identify, attract, fund and enroll students at KU. I want to thank the dedicated staff in Enrollment Management, Marketing Communications, Graduate Studies, International Programs, the Alumni Association, the University Honors Program, and the numerous other units who work tirelessly to help students decide to become a Jayhawk.
More broadly, I want to thank all of you. Everything we do reflects on the university and can make an impression on prospective students and their families. No matter your job function, and no matter what field or department you’re in, thank you for helping lead students to Mount Oread through your scholarship, outreach and service.