Chancellor Douglas A. Girod

Message: A special class of Jayhawks

Monday, September 26, 2016

Our primary mission at the University of Kansas is to educate leaders. Of course, before we can educate them, we first need to recruit them to Mount Oread. Thanks to your hard work, we are doing exactly that – and doing so in record-setting fashion.

I am delighted to announce this year’s freshman class has grown for the fifth straight year and is the most academically talented class in KU history, according to enrollment numbers released today.

The 2016 freshman class includes 4,233 new Jayhawks on campus, an increase of 1.1 percent. This is the fourth largest class in history and the largest since 2008. Moreover, these freshmen are the most academically talented in KU history, registering all-time high average ACT scores and GPAs.

In other words, this is a banner freshman class for KU. To increase in both size and quality is a tremendous accomplishment. And a fifth straight year of freshman class growth – especially in the context of enrollment trends at other universities in the region – is a clear sign we’re doing a lot of things right in the minds of prospective students.

The numbers released today show other positive trends for our university, including a third straight year of overall enrollment growth. While the freshman class is a large part of that, we also saw gains in the total number of graduate and transfer students, and we now have the largest headcount at KU Medical Center in history. I’m also proud that our minority student population grew 3.9 percent, and these students now comprise 19.8 percent of total enrollment, the highest percentage in history.

Given today’s announcement, I think it’s appropriate to reflect on this remarkable five-year run of freshman class growth. Specifically, I want to remind you that this did not happen by accident! Rather, we have made purposeful, strategic decisions in how we identify, attract, fund and enroll students at KU. And we have worked hard to provide the strong academics and life-changing opportunities that high-performing students expect when selecting a flagship research university.

For example, we implemented the KU Core Curriculum, which we designed specifically to include undergraduate research, internships and study abroad. We revamped financial aid with new four-year renewable scholarships and an expansion of the Jayhawk Generations Scholarship. And this year, we implemented new admissions procedures for incoming students, which has further differentiated KU in the minds of high-achieving students and has had a remarkable impact on this year’s freshmen.

A few years ago, our recruitment and marketing efforts were regional. Today, we have permanent recruiters in cities across the country who, with the support of a national marketing campaign, are leveraging KU’s stature and unmistakable brand to recruit new Jayhawks from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Today’s enrollment data confirm our bold strategy is working, as evidenced by the growing number of non-Kansas students choosing KU and diversifying our community of scholars.

I want to thank the staff in Enrollment Management, Marketing Communications, Graduate Studies, International Programs, the KU Alumni Association, KU Endowment Association, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the University Honors Program and the professional schools for their tireless work to help students decide to become a Jayhawk.

Beyond these specific units, each of you play a role in recruiting students to KU. From the staff who make our campus welcoming and beautiful to the faculty who engage the world with research and scholarship, you all do important work to help students decide to be Jayhawks. Thank you for leading students to Mount Oread through your scholarship, outreach and service. And thank you for helping us turn our bold aspirations into realities.


Bernadette Gray-Little

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Chancellor's Vision

The mission of the University of Kansas is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

We will do that by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.