UMN will see largest freshman class in 40 years

University President Eric Kaler said the incoming class will be around 6,000 students.

Max Chao

This fall will see the largest University of Minnesota freshman class in 40 years.

In the Board of Regents’ first meeting led by new Chair David McMillan, administrators and officials reported Wednesday on plans for the fall and its new crop of students, along with updates on the past year’s progress in athletics and long term academic goals.

University President Eric Kaler detailed the incoming freshman class in his annual report to the board.

He said the new class was the largest in 40 years with around 6,000 students. The class also includes the largest share of rural students in 25 years.

Kaler also discussed the recent research exchange agreement with the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In Athletics Director Mark Coyle’s annual report, he detailed his first year, which included a department record 3.24 cumulative GPA.

University athletics in Coyle’s first year fell under scrutiny for incidents surrounding sexual assault and a high-profile boycott of the football team.

Gopher athletics led all public schools for the fourth consecutive year in NCAA Academic Progress Rate Awards, given to the top 10 percent of teams in each sport that maintain academic progress, he said.

Coyle said mandatory finance and sexual harassment training for student-athletes will start in the fall, led by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.

Several resolutions faced votes Wednesday, including one which would require high-cost, high profile staff to be approved by the board. Progress on the amendment stagnated after a 6-6 final vote.

In the last five years the University hired several new athletic head coaches, drawing concern from some on the board.

In 2013, the University hired men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino. His contract was extended to 2020-2021 and increased his annual salary to $1.84 million, plus incentives.

The University also hired new head football coach P.J. Fleck to a five year, $18 million contract.

The regents also voted on a resolution supporting Minnesota’s bid for the 2023 World Fair Expo.

Several new University personnel were introduced at the meeting, including new Humphrey School of Public Affairs Dean Laura Bloomberg, and Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Information Technology Bernard Gulachek.

Progress Card

The University Progress Card, a report that tracks various key student metrics, was presented to the Board in its annual update.

Lincoln Kallsen, finance director for the University Budget and Finance Office, manages the project and gave the presentation.

The median undergraduate debt has decreased for the fourth year in a row, Kallsen said.

Student-athletes at the University also posted a 90.4 percent graduation success rate, higher than schools like the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of California – Los Angeles, he said.

The card is designed as an understandable reference point for regents, the administration and the public, Kallsen said.

According to the report, the University’s four-year graduation rate rose to 65.2 percent in 2012, up from 59.1 percent in 2009. The University’s goal for 2017 is to maintain a 65 percent graduation rate.

The progress card also dictated other goals like raising average ACT scores over 28 for incoming freshman, lifting the University’s medical school ranking to a top 20 placement by 2021 and keeping the University’s ranking as a top-10 public research school.

Kallsen said the Progress Card isn’t the first program of its kind the school has tried.

“In my 25 years here, this has had the most staying power and the most high-level … involvement and interest,” he said.

In 2015, the progress card was first discussed by regents as a way to quantify the University’s progress.

At the time, Kaler said the progress card would be the University’s “North Star.”

The annual assessment was fully instituted by the University in 2016.