UO attracts top class of freshmen as 2012 academic year begins

EUGENE, Ore. -- (Sept. 24, 2012) – The University of Oregon began its fall term today with one of its largest and most diverse classes of incoming freshmen – and the most academically ready, as measured by the advanced placement courses they've completed.

Overall enrollment will be close to 25,000 students – which will be a record – preliminary data on student numbers indicates. Final, official enrollment numbers are based on totals following the fourth week of fall term, and will be released by the Oregon University System.

The UO will welcome about 5,500 new students this fall, including nearly 4,000 freshmen. In addition to setting a record for advanced placement courses taken while in high school, the 2012 freshman class will have an average grade point average (GPA) of between 3.57 and 3.58. The 10-year average for freshman class GPA at the UO is 3.4. This year's freshmen are taking full class loads, averaging 15.3 credits each for fall term – higher than the typical undergrad load of just under 15 credits.

"This is a truly exceptional group of students," said Roger Thompson, the UO's vice provost for enrollment management. "Athletic teams rate their recruiting classes, and on the academic side we also have ways to measure the potential impact of the students we attract. This is a five-star group.

"Our mission is to educate the best and brightest students in Oregon, and to bring in students from out of state and around the world who have the ability to learn and achieve at the highest levels. Our continuing success in the recruitment of outstanding students puts us on par with top universities across the country."

For the second year in a row, the incoming class will be the most diverse in university history. Students of color account for more than 25 percent of this year's freshman class – topping the mark of 23 percent set a year ago. That's a higher diversity rate than the state as a whole, and includes record numbers of specific groups including Latino/a and Asian students.

International enrollment for the freshmen class will top 10 percent, which is the highest in UO history. All 50 states and nearly 100 countries will be represented by students on campus.

The 5,500 new students will be among the UO's most socioeconomically-diverse incoming groups ever, with more than 23 percent expected to be Pell Grant eligible.Federal Pell Grants are limited to students from low-income households.

The university's Pathway Oregon program – which ensures all low-income Oregonians who are academically qualified will have their UO tuition and fees paid – will begin its fifth year with the largest number yet of participating students, about 1,550. The first cohort of Pathway students graduated in June.

Students from middle-income families will receive a new form of scholarship assistance this year, with about 120 Solari scholars included in the freshman class. The Solari Scholarships – paid for with a $5 million gift from UO alumna Mary Corrigan Solari – will help a total of about 250 middle-income Oregon students pay for their education at the university. The program offers recipients $5,000 annually toward their educational expenses.

There will also be new faces at the front of many UO classrooms, with a total of 236 new-to-campus faculty hired since the start of last year's winter term.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

MEDIA CONTACT:Joe Mosley, UO media relations, 541-346-3606, jmosley@uoregon.edu

SOURCE:Roger Thompson, UO vice provost for enrollment management, 541-346-2542, rjt@uoregon.edu

Note: The University of Oregon is equipped with an on-campus television studio with satellite uplink capacity, and a radio studio with an ISDN phone line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.