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President's Message | Archive


June 19, 2008

TO: AU Faculty & Staff
FROM: Neil Kerwin, President
SUBJECT: Record First Year Class and Anticipated Impact


American University’s entering Class of 2012 is on track to be the largest in university history. A total of 1,550 first-year students is projected to enroll  in fall 2008, 18 percent more students than in fall 2007. The class is as  academically talented as ever, with a 3.8 GPA and an SAT  average of 1266. We also expect record retention for  returning students and slightly more deposits from  new master’s students.


The  entire community can take pride in this news of AU’s  increasing prominence and growing popularity. We  should also anticipate the impact of increased demand on university  services and support systems and commit to delivering the highest quality experience for all of our students.


The dramatic increase in talented students choosing American University is the result of several factors. The work of our  Office of Enrollment Services, under the supervision of the Office of the  Provost, is clearly a major factor, as are the related conversion efforts of  our schools and colleges. Part of the attraction is certainly the combination  of our academic strengths and Washington location in an historic election  year. The excitement of engagement with this great city, as a new national administration  takes shape is a powerful draw. Our hard work to enhance first-year and  interdisciplinary programs undoubtedly has had an impact. We should be pleased  that new enrollment marketing initiatives, including increased personal  engagement with prospective students, more emphasis on campus visits, and  enhanced financial aid offers have had the desired effect. And to be sure, momentous events in the spring—including Senator Barack Obama’s news-making visit, our first appearance in the NCAA  men’s basketball tournament, and other events—gave us tremendous opportunities  for national visibility. In the months to come we will continue to study  the influence of these factors and others in our record number of enrolled  students and growth.


As  we celebrate and welcome this class, we must anticipate the impact of increased  demand and respond proactively. We will invest significant resources in new  faculty appointments to address the demand, especially for courses taken by  first-year students. We have identified additional off-campus housing  alternatives and offered incentives to returning students to choose these options, making more room for new students on  campus. We will increase the number of triple rooms, and we will procure  additional furniture so that every student is  properly equipped to study and rest comfortably. We will make optimal use of the Tenley Campus, with Washington Mentorship  Program students likely remaining there through the spring. We have increased  advising resources and are anticipating the additional load on other student  services, such as the shuttle service and  dining. These steps are just the beginning.


To  maintain and strengthen our growing reputation, we must meet the high  expectations of all our new and returning students. I urge every member of  the community to anticipate the impact of increased  demand in your part of the campus. I ask all of us to be creative and responsive, flexible and  nimble.

Finally,  I want to assure the entire AU community that our new strategic plan will  deliberately consider and identify ideal future enrollment targets, consistent  with our master plan and enhanced reputation, so that we can replicate our  success in future years, ensuring the health of our institution and the  satisfaction of students.                          

June 19, 2008 1:35 PM


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