Freshman class sets school records
University of Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz has grown accustomed to dunking, but just not in the water.?
Incoming freshman Sean Lydon introduced Walz to the water as he connected with the dunk tank and sent the coach into a tub of water at this year’s CARDnival, an event held at Trager Field as part of the 2008 Welcome Weekend.?
“I wasn’t sure I could get him,” said Lydon, a business major. “But it felt pretty good.”
Lydon, like several of his fellow freshmen, felt the need to enjoy himself due to the short time before classes begin. However, they aren’t aware that they are part of U of L’s largest, and what many consider, most academically prepared freshman class.?
According to Jenny Sawyer, director of admissions at U of L, the 2008-09 freshman class ranks higher than any previous class in size and ACT scores. The preliminary number of incoming freshman this year is 2,625, which is 56 more than last year and 182 more than in 2006.
The average ACT score improved from 24.3 in 2007 to 24.4 this year, including 25 percent of incoming freshman scoring 27 or higher.?
Sawyer added that the ACT scores were nearly three points higher than they were in 1999 at 21.5, which was before U of L’s Challenge for Excellence goals were set and admission standards were raised.
U of L’s scores also ranked higher than the national (21.1) and state (20.9) average ACT scores for college-bound seniors in 2008.?
“We’ve made a huge transformation over the past 10 years,” said Sawyer of the changes in the student body enrollment at U of L, but added that a greater change is occurring throughout the mindset of those who enroll at the university. “I don’t think we’ve just seen better students [enrolling at U of L], but I think we’ve seen a culture change as to who we are.”
Many freshman who attended this year’s Welcome Weekend, with events including the Roof Top Party, CARDnival and the Parking Office Cookout, cited academic, athletic and community features as reasons for attending U of L.?
“I wanted to come to a city, for the city life,” said Rumeal Whaley, who had a Cardinal bird shaved in his hair at the Alumni Association Picnic. “And the medical program is top notch.”
University Provost Shirley Willihnganz said that the university had expanded their focus on Welcome Weekend events in order to enhance incoming students’ experience.
“The initial experience of the university is excruciatingly important to retention and graduation,” Willihnganz said. “That’s really important to us; not only that they come, but that they stay and graduate.”
According to Willihnganz, the accumulation of more academically prepared students over the past several years emphasizes the work of U of L’s strategic plan.
“Every year for the past six or seven years we’ve been able to say it’s our best freshman class ever and we’re going to be able to say that again this year,”?said Willihnganz, who has worked at U of L since 1985.
Meanwhile at the dunk tank, Walz, with his body drenched, laughed as students continued to try and dunk him.?
“I just love the excitement and the school spirit that’s being shown already,” said Walz of his dunking experience and what he had seen from the new students. “I’ve gone in like 20-something times, but this feels great.”