Willamette's Class of 2010 Shows Increased Academic Strength

Willamette University's new class of first-year students boasts a strong academic profile that includes the highest median SAT score in the school's history and a median GPA that is almost one point higher than last fall.

The 481 College of Liberal Arts first-year students have a median SAT score of 1260, and the median GPA is 3.84. The new class includes 37 valedictorians, and almost 50 percent of the students were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.

At the same time, Willamette's Class of 2010 is ethnically, geographically and socioeconomically diverse, said Susan Rauch, interim vice president for enrollment. Almost 17 percent of the students are multicultural, and they come from 34 states, with 68 percent hailing from places outside Oregon. University-wide, an average of 20 to 22 percent of undergraduates receive Pell Grants, which go to those with the highest financial need.

"It's not easy to have a strong academic profile and maintain the diversity of the class," Rauch said. "We've been able to balance these often competing goals, and we're very proud of that."

Willamette's freshman class is 36 students larger than last fall. The university's total number of new undergraduates is 559, which includes first-year, international exchange and transfer students. The total estimated fall enrollment for the College of Liberal Arts is 2,027, and for the entire university, including the graduate schools, it is 2,694. Final enrollment numbers will be available in mid-September.

Echoing national trends, Willamette's freshman class includes more women than men -- the class is 55 percent female. However, Rauch said Willamette's male/female ratio has stayed about the same for the past few years, unlike some peer schools that continue to see women outpace men. Part of this is due to Willamette's athletics programs, which bring more balance to the gender ratio, she said.

Rauch said the diversity of the first-year class is evident in the activities they enjoyed during high school. The class includes 11 student body presidents, 175 varsity letter recipients, 175 instrumental musicians, 190 community service standouts, and 35 school newspaper, magazine or yearbook editors. Their past job titles have included beekeeper, U.S. Senate page, guide dog trainer, golf caddy and translator. The students have been involved in an array of organizations, including Model United Nations, Girl Scouts and Dodge Ball Club.

Willamette also has 62 new and returning international students on campus this year from 28 countries, including Afghanistan, China, Ecuador, India, Kenya, Romania and Vietnam.

On the graduate side of the university, Willamette's College of Law will enroll 160 first-year students this fall, and the School of Education expects to have 92 new students. Willamette's full-time MBA program has 54 new students, and the evening Professional MBA program in Portland and Salem is processing applications for classes beginning in early September.