Dr. Roger J. Thompson is the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, serving as the chief enrollment management officer for the University of Oregon, and is responsible for student recruitment and retention. Dr. Thompson came to discuss how Oregon’s admission standards have changed. Dr. Thompson was previously at the University of Alabama for 9 years. The following are notes from his presentation.

The University concentrates on a student’s “lifecycle”, with a goal of exceeding expectations throughout a student’s relationship with the University, from when they are a prospective student, throughout their education, and continuing their relationship as an alumni and donor. Getting a student to the donor level is an accomplishment worth striving for as it indicates success at the highest level for the University.

Currently the University’s goals are to improve the quality of experience for the freshman class. They strive to become more and more diverse and to expand their international admissions. Additonally, they want to keep programs affordable (the University currently holds the lowest rate of student debt in the state).

Overall enrollment has grown from 20,300 to 24,500 in five years. Keeping class sizes small is a constant, achievable goal.

The University has grown from incoming freshmen classes of 3,400 to 4,000 this year. Currently, the University’s infrastructure can’t handle much more than that. The average incoming GPA has grown as well. It has been said that Roger’s goal was to create an enrollment standard that he himself could not attain (and he’s done it).

This year, there were 24,000 applications for roughly 3,900 spots in the upcoming freshman class. It is more competitive than at any other time.

Sheldon, South, and many other schools throughout Oregon are major feeder schools. CA schools are major feeder schools as well.

Regarding diversity, enrollment of minority groups has increased over the past 5 years and roughly 30% of the student body is from a minority or international group. International students primarily come from Asia.

The University’s goal is to retain 90% of Freshmen to their Sophomore year. Higher freshman retention rates turn in to higher graduation rates.

Question: How fast can we grow given the infrastructure?

Answer: We’re at the point of posing challenges to infrastructure and state funding is low. The University is waiting for the Presidential transition to settle before turning to questions of growth. Many believe that we need to be bigger than 25k students in order to be financially sound.

Question: How will new and proposed off-campus housing centers be utilized?

Answer: The University’s goal is to provide affordable and safe housing and we can’t do that to the degree needed with the current University infrastructure. Currently, the University can offer 4200 beds. Roger says, “We ask parents to entrust us with their most precious treasure and we need to be able to demonstrate that that precious person has the opportunity to grow and be safe in the University environment.” Therefore, the University needs to be able to work with off-campus solutions.

Question: How do graduation rates of athletes compare to others in the Pac 12.

Answer: 72% of the general student body graduate, and many sports have graduation rates above that, partially due to the support provided. UO is certainly in the top third of the Pac 12. The forecast is a general graduation rate of 76-77% if the freshman retention rate can grow to 90%. Additionally, we hold a graduation rate that is 13% better than any other Oregon University despite receiving the lowest amount of state dollars.

Question: We’ve heard that senior citizens can audit classes? What is the rate of participation and has it increased with baby boomers aging?

Answer: Roger is unsure of the statistics but fully supports it and hopes it will grow.

Question: If the freshman class is under 4k, who makes up the 25k total enrollment?

Answer: 4,000 students are entering as freshment and each year there are 1400 transfers (60% are from Oregon Community Colleges). Graduate, professional and doctoral students are included in the 25k. The University has approx. 19,000 undergraduate students.

Question: Why do students choose UO?

Answer: In addition to athletics, UO offers a strong academic foundation. Most programs rank in top 25 or top 50 in country. Eugene is also attractive…a quintessential college town vs a big city. We are relatively small. Average class size mirrors high school. No “1000 seat lecture halls” that others brag about and no plans to go in that direction.

Question: What are the University’s plans around sciences with the expansion of science facilities and the new science building?

Answer: The new building will be opening in fall 2012. The University’s approach to science is an integrative, multi-disciplinary approach. There are now state of the art labs and classrooms that will allow UO to continue to expand science programs and offerings.