UNC Asheville's Largest Freshman Class Creates Opportunities,
Challenges for Campus;
Questions About Growth to be Explored during Coming Year
UNC Asheville is preparing for the biggest and brightest freshman class
in its history. This fall's freshman class is expected to number 733 and
have an average SAT score of 1171. Two years ago, there were 424 entering
freshmen with an average SAT score of 1159. The large class and stellar
SAT average demonstrate just how "hot" the liberal arts
university has become.
"Exemplary national rankings, recognition as a leader among public
liberal arts universities and an effective admissions office have all
played a part in moving UNC Asheville to a school of first choice for
North Carolina as well as out-of-state students," said UNC Asheville
Chancellor Jim Mullen.
While the influx of new students reflects the increased recognition of
UNC Asheville's value, it does not signal the university's intention to
become a large institution. Chancellor Mullen added, "It does invite
a conversation among faculty, students, alumni and trustees about the
appropriate size at which UNC Asheville can meet its responsibilities to
the State of North Carolina as well as its commitment to the liberal arts,
faculty-student interaction, and small class size. Our remarkable success
has many implications and challenges. We intend to remain true to our
liberal arts values."
This fall, UNC Asheville's University Planning Committee, made up of
faculty and senior staff, will explore the possibility of future growth
for the campus and make recommendations to Chancellor Mullen in spring
2005, according to Mark Padilla, UNC Asheville Provost and Vice Chancellor
for Academic and Student Affairs.
"Consideration of planned growth should be seen in the context of
the increasing number of high school graduates," Padilla said. A
national study released in February projects a dramatic rise in graduating
high school seniors as children of the baby boomers wrap up their high
school careers. The study, done by the Western Interstate Commission for
Higher Education, a 15-state coalition, projects a 33 percent increase in
graduating North Carolina high school seniors between 2001 and 2018.
Maintaining student access to higher education is a top priority shared by
the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees and the University of North Carolina
Board of Governors. The 16-campus UNC system currently enrolls about 31
percent of high school seniors attending four-year colleges, and UNC
President Molly Corbett Broad intends for the university system to
continue to enroll between 31 and 33 percent of N.C. high school graduates
attending four-year institutions.
"This enormous spike in undergraduates that the state expects
cannot be absorbed entirely by other UNC institutions. We must do our
share with the growing demographic picture, and we want to be proactive in
our planning. If we opt for some small and controlled growth, we will do
it in a manner that ensures the appropriate number of faculty, classrooms
and residence halls," Padilla said.
In the interim, UNC Asheville has moved from "rolling
admissions" to "deadline admissions" for the 2005-06
academic year. This method, employed by two other institutions in the UNC
system, UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, will allow
UNC Asheville to better manage the number of students in the freshman
class. With rolling admissions, all applicants who met UNC Asheville's
standards were admitted; this process is used by most UNC institutions.
Under deadline-based admissions, applicants must apply by March 1, and
will be notified of their admission status by April 1. This will result in
UNC Asheville being better able to work within the 18 percent out-of-state
student admission limit mandated by the UNC System Board of Governors. "It
likewise reflects the increasingly competitive nature of admission to UNC
Asheville," according to Scot Schaeffer, Admissions Director.
This fall's larger number of freshmen is presenting a number of
challenges and opportunities on campus.
To keep classes small while accommodating the incoming class, UNC
Asheville will offer additional sections of classes and spread classes
more fully throughout the day, with more 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. classes. The
average class size is expected to remain constant at 19. As in other
years, some courses, such as introductory chemistry and biology, will have
a greater number of students in lecture portions of the class, with an
average of 15 in laboratory portions.
UNC Asheville is hiring adjunct faculty for the coming year and will
begin searches this fall for additional permanent faculty for the 2005-06
academic year. The UNC system funding cycle bases its allocation for
faculty positions on the previous year's projected enrollment, so funds to
hire new faculty will not be available until fall 2005. Adjunct faculty
will be fully qualified to teach as determined by the Southern Association
of Colleges and Schools, UNC Asheville's accrediting organization. Adjunct
professors teach a maximum of two courses.
UNC Asheville is also moving ahead on providing additional parking on a
campus with little room to spare. Work has begun on the Nantahala
Street/Vivian Avenue parking area and on increasing capacity in several
campus parking areas. A transportation planner will assist in traffic and
Housing will also be tight this fall, but University staff are taking
steps to ensure all freshmen will have a place to stay. Requests for
housing currently exceed the University's 1,191 beds because of the large
freshmen class and the growing popularity of residential life. The
university is maximizing its number of beds and is exploring off-campus
"We will successfully meet each opportunity that sometimes
presents itself as a challenge. These result from an ever-increasing
national recognition of UNC Asheville as a 'first choice' school,"
said Chancellor Mullen. "The Asheville community and its natural,
cultural and health advantages are significant factors in students'
decisions to attend UNC Asheville. Our students benefit from participating
in the civic life and cultural diversity of the region as well as the
obvious recreational, expressive and employment opportunities that
- Merianne Epstein, UNCA Public Information Director, 828/251-6676