When classes began in mid-August, West Virginia University welcomed the largest, most diverse class in its history. It’s also one of the best prepared, Provost Joyce McConnell told the Board of Governors during its regular meeting Friday (Sept. 9).
“In Morgantown, we have the largest incoming class in history, about 5,200 students, and they have the highest high school GPA in history, about 3.70,” she said. “The Honors College freshman class, as a result of this, is up about 22 percent, which translates to 900 new Honors College students, or about 18 percent of the freshman class, and the number of admitted minority freshmen is up by 27 percent.”
McConnell said divisional campuses have also seen increases.
“Both WVU Institute of Technology and Potomac State College have larger first-year classes,” she said. “We had hoped to enroll 150 students on the WVU Beckley campus this fall. Instead, we have nearly 200.”
- At the main campus in Morgantown, there were 5,183 freshmen or new students, an increase of 383 or 8 percent.
- At WVU Institute of Technology in Montgomery (including the new campus in Beckley), 318, an increase of 38 or 13.6 percent.
- At Potomac State College in Keyser, 655, an increase of 55, or 9.2 percent.
Overall, first-time freshman applications increased 31 percent, and admissions rose 23 percent. Importantly, in addition to a larger percentage of enrolled minority students, first-time applications from minority students were up 70 percent and admissions rose 57 percent.
An overall headcount of 28,700, which is about the same as last year, “indicates that we’ve stopped the decline. We’re holding steady,” she said.
Total official enrollment figures won’t be ready until early October when they are released by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
Another strong signal is an expected 1 percentage point increase in the first-year retention rate to about 80 percent.
“This is powerful evidence that our initiatives are working,” she said.
In his report to the Board, President Gordon Gee lifted up the Olympic success of three current students and one alumni: Ginny Thrasher, who won the first gold medal of the Games in shooting, and Kadiesha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence who were on Canada’s bronze medal-winning women’s soccer team. Alumni Nicco Campriani won two gold medals, also in shooting.
“West Virginia University won more medals than 121 countries,” he said.
Finally, Gee singled out the work of the robotics team from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, which earlier in the week won $750,000 as it became the only team to ever win in the five-year history NASA’s Sample Robot Return Challenge.
The Board also heard an update from WVU Foundation President and CEO Cindi Roth on the progress of the State of Minds campaign, the comprehensive private fundraising campaign being conducted on behalf of the University.
The campaign had brought in nearly $995 million through June 30, more than 99 percent of the $1 billion goal with more than a year remaining in the campaign.
“Only 36 other four-year public schools in the country have raised $1 billion or more,” she said.
“Gifts to the campaign have created 685 new endowed student scholarships, 27 endowed faculty chairs, 25 endowed professorships and 203 new funds to assist research efforts.” she said.�
She noted that about 50 percent of the campaign contributions have come from individuals, which is uncommon. She also said that the Dream First part of the overall campaign to create student scholarships had already exceeded its $50 million goal.
In other action, the board:
- Approved changing the name of two farm properties at Potomac State College of West Virginia University. A recently donated farm in Fort Ashby will be names the Malone Farm after the late Ken Malone, a long-time professor of agriculture. A farm known as the Upper Farm, location of the Agriculture Technology building and greenhouse, will be renamed the Gustafson Farm, after the late Oscar Gustafson, former chairman of the Agriculture Department. Potomac State faculty previously endorsed the renaming.
- Approved appointments of Board committees.
The board was also informed that:
- The Division of Resource Management in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design has been renamed the Division of Resource Economics and Management to better reflect the growing emphasis on the economics and management of natural resource, environmental, energy and agricultural issues.
- The School of Medicine plans to move cardiac care units from the current Department of Surgery to a new Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery to allow for increased alignment and efficiencies with the new WVU Medicine Heart and Vascular Institute. The move will be effective Jan. 1.
The Board’s next meeting is set for Nov. 4 in Morgantown.
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