Admission on the rise at UI


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Following years of construction and rebuilding after the 2008 flood, University of Iowa President Sally Mason says the campus is now poised to grow its student enrollment this coming fall.

Mason told The Daily Iowan in a monthly one-on-one Q&A that admissions and enrollment-management officials try to estimate through tracking the best number of students to admit to the UI each year. This year, UI officials hope to see around 500 more students in the fall’s first-year freshman class, compared with the 2014-15 class. 

According to statistics provided by the Office of the President, the UI admitted 15,394 first-time freshmen students as of Feb. 16 — 1,167 more students compared with the last school year. 

Mason said that while there is an opportunity for growth, the university must remain cautious in slowly building the increasing enrollment.

“We feel comfortable that we can handle 500. The new residence hall will open this fall, and we haven’t yet shut down the Quad Residence Hall,” she said. “We’ve got the capacity in terms of beds to house new freshmen, and we’ve got the capacity in terms of classes for them as well. We’re trying to be pretty careful at how we build the numbers and grow moving forward.”

Brent Gage, the associate vice president for Enrollment Management, said the school is still in the very early stages in terms of developing predictive models to estimate class sizes, so while the numbers look favorable, there is still time to plan.

“I think it’s really an exciting time,” he said. “I think we’re kind of finally recovering and getting more facilities to bring more students to the University of Iowa.

“We’re finally kind of back to full strength.”

Gage was hired for the position in December 2014 to coordinate the UI’s efforts to recruit and enroll students.

Mason also predicts that this year’s freshman class will be another large and diverse incoming class.

“What’s gratifying to me is every year, we see the number of applications going up, but what we’re seeing at this point in time is acceptances of admits, and housing, and those kinds of things that suggests that we’re going to have a very large and strong freshman class,” she said. “In fact I’ll predict, because I won’t be here to talk about this, but I will predict that we will once again have the largest, the most talented, and the most diverse freshman class that we’ve ever seen coming in next fall.”

The UI offered admission to 14,227 first-year freshmen for the fall of 2014, according to the admission summary.

At the start of the school year, 4,666 new first-year students came to campus. Of those 4,666 students, 572 were international students representing 24 countries. Eight percent of the student population was Latino, and 4 percent were Asian American, according to the Admissions Office website.

Iowa residents made up roughly 47 percent of the Class of 2018, and 30 percent of students are Illinois residents.

Incoming freshmen have until May 1 to report to where they plan on attending college.

Mason highlighted the importance of maintaining the UI’s four-year graduation rate as well as trying to get students out even sooner.

Last week, Mason announced the Iowa Degree in Three program that will initially serve six majors.
The program, she said, is for especially dedicated students who want to try to complete their degrees much quicker.

Once the UI continues to grow in its undergraduate-student enrollment, Mason said, it must consider hiring more permanent faculty and staff. She said that the university was able to hire temporary positions for the short term, but if it continues to grow, the number of full-time faculty and staff will need to grow, too.

“I think it has to become a reality. If we grow and maintain that growth, as I’ve said to people, one way to fix that in the short-term is to hire people temporarily — that’s the short-term,” she said. “If we’re going to be bigger going forward, if we’re going to be 33,000-34,000 students going forward, we need a larger faculty.”

UI Provost P. Barry Butler said while these numbers are only early predictors, if they remain true, the UI does need to consider a more permanent fix.

Butler said UI officials have seen growth in the number of students interested in both the College of Engineering and the Tippie College of Business.

“If there are more students, you need more people to teach them,” he said. “How we will fill those will depend on the areas that are growing.”

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