UW’s freshman class likely to set record

The official census numbers won’t be generated until Sept. 19, but current figures indicate 2018 now has the “largest entering freshman class in the history of the University of Wyoming,” Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Kyle Moore told the Board of Trustees on Thursday.

As of that morning, freshman enrollment sat at 1,860 students.

Moore said UW has taken additional steps this year to reduce “summer melt,” which refers to the number of students who attend orientation but do not end up attending classes in the fall.

By having “greater communications” with the incoming freshman class, Moore said summer melt has been reduced by 32 percent this year.

The record-breaking class comes despite a decline in the number of students graduating from Wyoming high schools.

With 350 fewer high schoolers graduating this year, Moore said UW has captured 18 percent of the graduating cohort. In 2017, 15 percent of graduating high schoolers enrolled at the university.

“There’s a smaller pool, but we have continued to aggressively go after our Wyoming students,” Moore said. “It’s particularly astonishing in the higher education landscape, where institutions are happy to maintain enrollment.”

In anticipation of the freshman class officially setting a record on Census Day — the 15th day of classes — Moore said Sept. 19 “cannot get here soon enough for me.”

The incoming class exceeded dorm capacity in the first weeks of classes.

As a result, some resident advisors were given roommates, despite the RA contracts that entitle them to their own rooms.

To reconcile that situation, Vice President for Student Affairs Sean Blackburn told the Laramie Boomerang the university “thanked (the RAs) a ton and offered them additional dining dollars to compensate for those two weeks.”

Only about a dozen RAs — all men — still have roommates and Blackburn said those students are now in the process of being moved into their own rooms. When administrators were worried the dorms might be even more over capacity than they ended up being, Blackburn had several “fishbowl” lounges converted to dorm rooms.

To do that, staff upgraded locks on the lounges, bought opaque “plastic cling” to add privacy to the lounge windows, and brought furniture into the rooms.

Those rooms will now be re-converted to lounges in the coming weeks, Blackburn said. The measures taken to convert the lounges to dorm rooms can be re-implemented in 2019 if need be.

As part of UW’s five-year strategic plan, which was adopted in 2017, the university has a goal of increasing enrollment to 13,500 by 2022. With a large class graduating in 2018, enrollment grew by just 31 students in the first year of the strategic plan. Total enrollment sat at 12,397 as of an August report.

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