UT’s Incoming Freshman Class is Diverse, Academically Strong

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In addition to being the best and brightest class ever, this year’s freshman class at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, shows significant gains in diversity.

“Quality, access and diversity are our key goals,” said Provost Susan Martin. “This year’s class confirms that our progress is on the right track.”

While admissions numbers aren’t final until the 14th day of class, the freshman class is expected to be 17 percent minority, compared to about 13 percent last fall. The class is projected to be 9 percent African American.

There are 40 National Merit scholarship winners in the incoming freshman class, nearly double last year’s 22.

Forty percent of the incoming freshmen had GPAs of 4.0 or higher — compared to 22.6 percent in ’04; 29 percent in ’05; 32 percent in ’06; 32.3 percent in ’07; and 38 percent in ’08.

The class’ average high school GPA is 3.79 and average ACT score is 26.5, as compared to 3.75 and 26.6 for last fall’s new freshman class.

About 99 percent of the in-state students qualified for the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship, which pays $4,000 per year.

About 12 percent of in-state freshmen have received the Pledge Scholarship, which goes to low-income students and covers the mandatory cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, room and board, and books. The average income of Pledge families is $19,400 compared to about $130,000 for all in-state students.

Richard Bayer, assistant provost and director of enrollment services, said the scholarship numbers help illustrate the strides UT Knoxville has made in access.

This year, Pledge recipients come from 67 of the state’s 95 counties. By comparison, in 2005, the Pledge’s inaugural year, only 5.3 percent of UT Knoxville freshmen received the Pledge and the recipients represented only 51 counties.

“We’ve tried to break down the barriers of income, race and culture to open our doors to the state’s best and brightest students,” Bayer said. “The Pledge is one of our success stories.”

The incoming class, with about 3,723 students, is smaller than last year, but overall undergraduate enrollment will remain comparable to last year due to improved retention.

“We think our total undergraduate population will be down only about 275,” Martin said.

“With budget matters a concern for the next few years, our intent was to have a smaller freshman class, so that we could better prepare for serving this class two years from now, when they are juniors and require the upper-level, major courses,” she said.

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