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Officials brace for another large freshman class

BY CAITLIN FRY | FEBRUARY 09, 2011 7:10 AM

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Officials plan to accommodate continually increasing enrollment at the University of Iowa, though they don’t know yet how big next year’s jump will be.

For starters, they intend to add 200 beds in the dorms and hire 35 new tenure-track faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Roughly 16,800 potential students have sent applications this year, a 9.1 percent increase from the 15,400 applications received by February 2010.

Applications will continue coming in until April, and officials will know expected enrollment numbers in May.

“Obviously, we are a place that is attractive to students,” said UI Director of Admissions Michael Barron. “But how many we will ultimately offer admission to and who will enroll is uncertain.”

The liberal-arts school plans to hire around 35 tenure-track faculty members to provide enough courses and seats in each class for students, said Helena Dettmer, the associate dean for undergraduate programs and curriculum. Officials said they don’t yet know the cost of the additional faculty.

“The college is working on determining how many additional sections, classes, and labs we will need,” Dettmer wrote in an e-mail.

In addition to academic accommodations, University Housing has been monitoring the number of applications coming in and is prepared to provide 200 extra beds next year in addition to other housing expansion plans. The beds would be integrated into existing housing. Von Stange, the director of Housing and Dining, said officials could also offer a section of the upper-classmen dorm, Parklawn, to freshman.

Stange’s department had to search for accommodations outside the traditional dorms last year after a record incoming class. The Lodge, located nearly 2 miles from campus, housed roughly 160 incoming students this year, and the recently leased Centerstone will hold 114 Honors students next fall.

The UI will also continue its lease with the Lodge and may use other buildings if necessary, he said.
Under the 2010-2016 Strategic Plan, officials set a goal of increasing undergraduate enrollment by 100 students each year over a five-year period. The class of 2014 brought in 500 more students.

The record-breaking class forced university officials to accommodate class sizes, testing facilities, and deal with crowded cafeterias.

This problem-solving serves as preparation for next year, UI spokesman Tom Moore said.

“Leadership has recognized the issues and has had experience dealing with them from this past incoming freshman class,” he said. “We already have many blueprints in place to counter these issues.”

The UI isn’t the only Big Ten school seeing increases in first-year undergraduate applications.

The Office of Admissions at the University of Illinois reported an increase in first-year undergraduate student applications as well. It received 27,000 last year, as opposed to the 31,000 so far this year.

“Students are attracted to Big Ten schools because they are research universities with strong undergraduate curricula,” Barron said.


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