University welcomes largest freshman class, National Merits

Enrollment and diversity increase; 12 more National Merit Scholars brings University total to 46

9/20/2011 | By: Natalie Savidge  |

Enrollment at the University of Nevada, Reno has hit the 18,000 mark for the first time. The University welcomed 18,004 undergraduate and graduate students to campus this fall. This reflects a 2 percent increase over the fall 2010 enrollment of 17,679 students.

The University saw a 4 percent increase in first-time freshman, with 2,880 freshman starting this year compared to 2,764 last fall.

The University welcomes 165 Presidential Scholars and 12 new National Merit Scholars this semester, the largest amount of each scholar type welcomed in a semester. The National Merit Scholars join the 34 already enrolled, bringing the University’s total to 46, the largest number ever enrolled at the University of Nevada, Reno. The University received sponsorship status by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in spring 2009.

“This accomplished class is the largest freshman class in the University’s history,” University President Marc Johnson said. “These students will contribute to the campus atmosphere and learning environment, and they will contribute to the state’s future success.”

Fall 2011 enrollment data also revealed a 10 percent decline in graduate student enrollment. According to Marsha Read, vice president research and dean of the graduate school, the primary factor behind the decline is reductions in graduate programs.

Diversity also continues to increase. Enrollment of students of color is up 8 percent, bringing the total of undergraduate and graduate students of color to 26 percent.

“Having a diverse student enrollment contributes to the overall education experience and prepares students for increasingly diverse workplaces and the global economy,” Johnson said.

The incoming freshman class includes a continued strong representation of Nevada students and an increase in students from out of state. Approximately 78 percent of undergraduate enrollment is students who have graduated from Nevada high schools. The University’s residence halls opened their doors to 2,267 students this fall compared to 2,151 for fall 2010 and 1,713 in 2009, a 25.6 percent increase over two years. A new 320-person residence hall will open next fall to accommodate Living Learning Communities.

One of this year’s new National Merit Scholars, Dallas Ahrens, is a graduate of Boulder City High School in southern Nevada and is now a pre-veterinary major. She chose Nevada over other options because of its National Merit program.

“I fell in love with the campus and felt like I could belong here,” Ahrens said. “The campus is beautiful, the professors are all very helpful and the campus community is great.”

Since beginning her studies this fall at the University of Nevada, Reno, Ahrens has become involved with the Pre-Vet Club and Wolf Pack Fencing. After graduation, she plans to attend a professional veterinary school and get her license.


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