PULLMAN, Wash. – This fall, Washington State University is expecting its largest class of incoming freshmen ever to be enrolled on the Pullman campus, based on the confirmations the university has received by the May 1 deadline.
 
John Fraire, vice president for student affairs and enrollment, said the university will likely have a class of 4,100 to 4,400 new freshmen on its Pullman campus in the fall. The largest previous class of new freshmen was 3,411 admitted in fall 2008.
 
“It is important for Washington State University to continue to strive to provide access to higher education for Washingtonians, particularly in this difficult economic time,” said President Elson S. Floyd. “The state needs more well-educated college graduates to help grow its economy, and WSU will do its part to meet that need.”
 
Diversity strong
Fraire said that the numbers for the incoming class are strong across the board. He said he expects this will be the university’s most diverse class, with especially strong growth in numbers of African-American and Hispanic students. It is also shaping up as a well-qualified class academically; admissions to the WSU Honors College have nearly doubled.
 
Pullman, in-state fastest growing
He said, while enrollments at the university’s Vancouver, Tri-Cities and Spokane campuses appear solid, the fastest-growing WSU campus this fall will be in Pullman.
 
While the freshmen numbers reflect increases in out-of-state and international students, most of the new students will come from in-state. If the current trends hold, Fraire estimated that the university will enroll about 900 more in-state students in its freshman class this year than it did in the fall of 2010.
 
Improved recruiting, admissions
Fraire cited improved recruiting, a more user-friendly admissions process and the university’s improved academic reputation as factors in the growth.
 
Floyd met with campus leaders earlier this week to discuss the logistics of accommodating this freshman class and making sure that they get the classes and academic support services that they need. He said while some increases in class sizes are inevitable, the university has already adopted a number of efficiency efforts to provide more scheduling flexibility to students and to better use existing university facilities.
 
Excess capacity
Fraire said the university has some excess capacity because last year’s freshman class was relatively small and the university is graduating a large class of seniors this spring.
Earlier this month at a campus budget forum, Floyd discussed the university’s plans to seek to grow enrollment in response to state budget cuts and likely double-digit tuition increases.
 
“While we would greatly prefer a higher level of state support and a lower level of tuition increases as a means to that goal (of increased student access), we must deal with the financial realities as they are,” the president wrote in a Perspectives column posted on-line Friday.
 
Enrollment and budget cuts
He said, while the increased tuition revenue coming from the larger incoming class will not spare the university from difficult budget cuts, it will allow the university to make some targeted hires of faculty and staff to help meet the needs of the larger group of incoming freshmen.
 
Floyd and Provost Warwick M. Bayly will be meeting with faculty groups over the next month to discuss issues raised both by the budget and by the new, larger class of freshmen. Discussions will continue within administrative and support units as well.

 

A Perspectives column by Floyd is available at
http://president.wsu.edu/perspectives/