By J. Ferguson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
A radical shift in the way the UA has attracted new students since 2002 has created what President Peter Likins called "a real transformation" in the student body.
According to enrollment data released last week, the freshman class is the largest it has ever been, with 5,794 students.
The class of 2009 has several distinctions from previous classes. It has the highest average SAT scores in the history of the UA, with an average score of 1122, up four points from last year's freshman class, records show.
The freshman class also has a higher percentage of minorities, 27 percent, compared to the UA student body as a whole, which only consists of 25.5 percent minorites.
Likins said these new enrollment records are proof that a decision made in 2002 to change how the UA recruits new students is working.
"We resolved to prepare this university to move up in the hierarchy of American higher education," Likins said.
By studying how other top universities attracted top students, Likins said the UA followed the patterns of the successful programs in order to attract new students to the UA.
"We are determined to be more selective and more diverse," Likins said.
Richard Kroc, an assistant vice president for enrollment management, said the UA has worked hard to attract the top 2 percent of Arizona high school students.
Kroc said the UA invited top students from Arizona high schools to tour the UA, encouraging them to apply to the UA and offering financial aid incentives to those students.
The "radical shift" can be attributed to the establishment of the Office of Enrollment Management in 2003, which coordinates the active recruitment of leading high school students and offers financial incentives to merit-based scholars and minority students.
Although these numbers are signs of improvement, Likins said there are some numbers he is not proud of.
Likins said he is not satisfied with the UA's current 57-percent graduation rate.
"The rate is above average, but being above average is not good enough," Likins said.
Likins said while the research done at the UA is exceptional, some students are slipping through the cracks.
"We are a top-20 university when we look at what our faculty is doing," Likins said. "But our numbers for graduation are at the bottom of the list when compared to top universities."
According to the 2002 diversity action plan report, the six-year graduate retention rate is 50 percent for whites and Asians, 44 percent for Hispanic students, 37 percent for blacks and 25 percent for American Indians.
Likins said the UA is putting money toward retention and is using financial aid generously to help students stay at the UA.