PULLMAN — New students, new programs and new buildings were much in evidence as Washington State University opened the 2006-2007 academic year on Monday at all four of its campuses.

“The beginning of the academic year is always an exciting time to be around campus,” said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins. “We continue to attract outstanding students, as we expand programs to meet their needs and the needs of the state as a whole.”

One notable change this year is the first class of freshmen attending WSU Vancouver. In 2005, the  Legislature authorized the expansion of WSU Vancouver programming to serve freshmen this fall, as a way to better serve the education needs of Southwest Washington. The new freshmen are expected to push that campus’ student head count past the 2,000 mark for the first time. WSU Tri-Cities will admit its first freshman class next fall.

The Pullman campus welcomed another well-qualified freshman class for the first day of classes, continuing a trend of incoming classes with strong high school grade point averages. When the final count is in, this year’s freshman class is expected to be somewhat smaller than last year’s class, which totaled 2,885. Official enrollment counts for all WSU campuses will be available shortly after the 10th day of classes.

The Honors College on the Pullman campus will be welcoming 164 students, up from 120 two years ago. The average GPA of the incoming honors students is 3.9; they carry an average SAT of 1304. Sixty-nine recipients of WSU Regents Scholarships are included in the class. About 14 percent of the Honors students are multicultural, almost twice the percentage of last year’s Honors class.

The university is welcoming its largest class of freshmen veterinary students. The 98 students who were accepted into this year’s class were chosen from 784 who applied. Only 20 of them are male. That’s the highest percentage of female students ever in an incoming Vet Med class.

Pullman students will be greeted by two major construction projects near the heart of campus. The Compton Union Building has been closed and is being totally rebuilt. The $86 million renovation, which will be funded in part through a fee approved through a student referendum, is expected to be completed by fall semester 2008. Work is also underway on the second building in the Biotechnology/Life Science Building, located on the east side of Stadium Way north of Johnson Road.

At WSU Spokane, students will be attending classes in a new five-story Academic Center. Dedication ceremonies for the $33.8 million building will be held next month. Over the summer, workers moved more than 10,000 books into the new Cooperative Academic Learning Service, a joint library of Washington State University and Eastern Washington University, which is located on the second floor of the new building.

High-demand funding provided by the Legislature has led to record numbers of undergraduate and graduate students in the WSU Intercollegiate College of Nursing. Because of these funds, student nurse enrollment increased significantly in Yakima, the Tri-Cities and Spokane.
And, in Vancouver and Spokane, enrollment of registered nurses into graduate nursing programs also rose to record levels. Overall, nursing enrollments have grown more than 67 percent since 1998.