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Back to School Tips for Journalists (Released: 7/31/00)

By Richard Veillieux, Office of University Communications


UConn's Class of 2004, like the two previous freshman classes, is more diverse and boasts higher test scores than the previous class, early estimates from the enrollment management office indicate. During the past two years, enrollment has surged 34 percent at the Storrs campus, average Scholastic Aptitude Test scores have increased by 24 points, and minority freshman enrollment has grown 39 percent. Preliminary data on the incoming class shows an enrollment increase of about 2 percent overall, including a nine percent increase in minorities and another seven point increase in SAT scores. Also, for the second consecutive year, UConn has landed more valedictorians -- 26 in 1999, 34 this year -- than any other university in Connecticut. For more information, call Dolan Evanovich, associate provost for enrollment management, at 860-486-1463.


Before this year's incoming freshmen graduate, they'll be studying in a new business school, shopping for books and supplies in a new bookstore, researching the human body in a new biological sciences building, and enjoying movies, dances, and other events in a new student union. As those structures go up, the students also will be receiving their lessons in some of the more than 70 classrooms that have been refurbished, and working or living in some of the 10 new buildings or residence halls that have been built since the UConn 2000 rebuilding program began in 1996. Since then, more than $500 million has been spent on capital projects, with another $500 million expected to be spent during the next five years. For information on new projects, contact Larry Schilling, university architect, at 860-486-3116.


More than 900 freshmen -- nearly one-third of UConn's incoming class -- have chosen to take part in The Northwest Experience, living in the newly renovated Northwest Residence Halls, where they will be joined by about 100 upper classmen who will serve as mentors to the new students during the 2000-2001 academic year. A rigorous program designed to give freshmen the skills they need to survive and thrive at the University, The Northwest Experience will offer students a wide range of programs, including special orientation sessions that begin before any other students arrive on campus. They will be encouraged to enroll in one of 50 one credit, University Learning Skills courses, some of which will be offered on site. They also will receive regular counseling to help them choose a major course of study. For information call John Sears at 860-486-3430.


Advisors in the Academic Center for Entering Students (ACES) will meet with all incoming freshmen in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences -- as well as upperclassmen who haven't decided on a major or are awaiting entry into an upper division school -- to help focus their studies early in their UConn career. The ACES program is designed not only to improve UConn's excellent retention rate (currently, more than 85 percent of UConn freshmen return for their sophomore year, and nearly 70 percent graduate), but to improve the quality of the undergraduate experience as students matriculate. For more information, contact Steven Jarvi or Donna Dietz at 860-486-1788.


New students entering UConn for the 2000-2001 academic year have been sent a copy of Bobbi Ann Mason's new book, In Country, and will discuss their views of the novel in one of nearly 150 small groups during orientation Aug. 27. They also will attend a presentation by Mason, a UConn alumna, that afternoon. The book is about Vietnam veterans and was made into a movie in 1989. The summer reading program, now in its fourth year, is designed to help new college students understand they are about to begin a rigorous journey: one that emphasizes critical thinking skills. For more information, contact John Bennett at 860-486-0752.


The varsity women's hockey team will make its debut at UConn in November, cementing the University's position as one of the few comprehensive universities in the nation to be in full compliance with Title IX, the 1972 federal regulations requiring universities that receive federal funding to offer equal athletic opportunities to men and women, roughly equal to gender percentages in the general student body. The women's hockey team brings the number of varsity sports at UConn to 23, including 12 women's sports. For more information, call Tim Tolokan, associate director of athletics for communications, at 860-486-3531.


In the Whitney Residence Hall, all 80 students are science and engineering majors. Across the road in South Campus, one building is reserved for students in the Honors Program, while clusters of students majoring in journalism, fine arts, nursing, communication sciences, and women majoring in math or the sciences, fill any number of adjacent four-person suites. In Northwest Campus, more engineers and students interested in community service will be grouped together, enhancing their experiences and fostering a collegial learning atmosphere. For more information about clustering, call Susan Steele, vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction, at 860-486-5019.


Teaching isn't what it used to be. Today's innovative teachers are using high tech machinery to deliver integrated video, audio, and "overheads." Course materials are on the Web, library research is often done with a computer from the students' rooms, and class assignments are likely to involve group work, self evaluation, and/or Web-based tests. For more information, call Keith Barker, assistant vice president and head of the Institute for Teaching and Learning, 486-2686.


A new visitor's center to open in mid-August is a metaphor for UConn's change in focus: meeting the needs of the customer. The center will offer hospitality and more to the thousands of people who spend time on the UConn campus each year. Visitors will receive answers to their questions, UConn brochures, maps, and admissions packets, and register for campus tours. A large exhibit area will explain University programs and research. The center, funded by alumni Philip and Christine Lodewick, will be open seven days a week. For more information, call Meg Malmborg, director, at 860-486-0232. (After Sept. 1, reach Meg at 860-486-4900.)

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