Butler welcomes largest class in history

Blue III isn’t the only thing that’s grown this year. The incoming freshman class of 2016 consists of 1,111 students, a significant increase from the 926 who enrolled last fall.
Application numbers at many colleges around the country have dropped; however, Butler has seen a 43 percent increase in applications over the past two years.
“Some of that is that students are applying to more colleges than they did even two years ago,” Dean of Admission Scott Ham said. “However, we cannot take away from the fact that the promotion Butler received during two national championship runs helped make Butler a household name.”
Prospective students became attracted to what the university describes as the “Butler Way” once Butler became a more familiar  school, he said.
“This is just another demonstration of how Butler has quickly become very prominent on the national and international scene,” Vice President for Student Affairs Levester Johnson said. “When you bring in the next largest class ever, that’s saying that Butler’s a hot commodity, and we want to continue to feed off of that.”
The quantity of the incoming class is not the only feature that should be in focus, said Tom Weede, vice president for enrollment management.
“This is not just the largest group that has enrolled,” Weede said. “It is tied with last year for being the best academic class that we’ve ever enrolled.
It has more diversity in it, and people from different places bring different parts of a conversation, and that enriches everybody.”
The incoming freshman class possesses a variety of students, including Lilly Scholars, volunteers, athletes and musicians.
“All of these things together will make it a richer, fuller Butler,” Weede said. “It’s just a great group of students coming in.”
Freshman Kelsey Malcom said she likes the size of her incoming class because it’s more open and has more opportunities for people. However, she said she doesn’t want Butler to outgrow its identity.
“I would kind of like to see them keep the number (of incoming freshmen) the same, only because if it gets too big, some may feel like it’s losing its unique quality,” Malcom said. “You don’t want it to lose anything special it might have had by the size it was known for.”
Alex Correa, a freshman pharmacy major, was also drawn to Butler for its size, as well as its pharmacy program.
“I’d like to see a bigger name, not just a bigger class size,” Correa said.
In response to the largest class size, the university has pulled together additional resources to make this week and year run more smoothly.
Some aspects of Welcome Week had to be adjusted in order to meet the needs of all incoming students.
More student orientation guides were on staff to keep the group sizes manageable, and additional Butler faculty and student volunteers helped on move-in day.
“I think everything has gone smoothly,” said Kelsa Reynolds, Student Government Association vice president of operations. “It’s really neat to see not only the faculty and staff working but everyone coming together to welcome the largest class here on Butler’s campus.”
“We’ve added more support and resources for what we have traditionally done,” Johnson said. “Everyone is pitching in, and they are determined to not let anyone slip through the cracks.”
To deal with more long-term solutions, the New Student Success Task Force met again this year to discuss potential directions for the future. Comprised of Butler staff and faculty, the committee makes proposed solutions to help Butler and its growth. They have been working to ensure that every student’s needs are met, dealing with challenges such as housing, classes and campus activities.
“If we understand what those challenges are, then we can actually find ways to meet the challenges,” Johnson said.
Weede said Butler’s hope is to see moderate growth over time that’s well planned to ensure that students have the Butler experience.
The university wanted to have a larger class than last year but wanted  incremental growth, Ham said.
“We don’t want to lose what makes Butler special,” Ham said. “We want to make sure that any growth we have is fully supported at all levels—physical structures, faculty and staff, and support across the board.”

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