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Sustaining Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Our path to excellence begins with the full commitment of the faculty to provide the highest-quality education that expands the opportunities beyond traditional disciplines and increases engagement with our students through advising, professional development, and experiential learning. We have come to understand that our most successful students are those who become fully involved in the richness of university life. They develop close interactions with faculty, become involved in academic areas of interest, engage in personally meaningful activities and service, and successfully launch their undergraduate careers. They choose a major, follow a curriculum that responds to their individual interests, and accordingly plan their future careers.

UConn has increased its tradition of attracting a high-quality, diverse student body. Over the last 10 years, our mean SAT scores have increased from 1,167 to 1,233. For our most talented students who enroll in the Honors Program, the mean SAT score is 1,413, comparable to the top universities in the United States. Since 2004, our undergraduate enrollment has increased from 19,287 to 22,595, and the percentage of minority students has increased from 17 percent to 27 percent. Our undergraduate retention is one of the best in the country, with freshmen to sophomore retention of 94 percent for all students and 91 percent for minority students, indicating that we are recruiting and retaining our culturally diverse population. We have numerous successful programs that enable our students to complete their degrees, with an average time to graduation of 4.2 years. UConn’s graduation rates—including those of minority and economically disadvantaged students—are among the highest of any public research university in the nation, one of the key reasons why the institution is a top-ranked choice of students and parents. Our six-year graduation rate for culturally diverse students is 82 percent today, compared with 69 percent 10 years ago. We remain committed to providing generous financial aid and mentoring to ensure that students from low-income families who are granted admission can attend UConn and graduate on time.

Why do academically talented students continually choose to attend UConn? Faculty excellence matched with broad and deep offerings in interdisciplinary programs are two important reasons. UConn is a large, diverse university with multiple choices, including small-group opportunities for students in which they can live, work, and study in an environment that fosters a sense of belonging through the Living and Learning Communities and unparalleled academic support through the Institute for Student Success.

UConn students are able, in any given day, to take classes in subjects ranging from puppetry to linguistics to digital marketing to Renaissance art. They can conduct research in a genomics lab or pursue funding for a “UConn Idea” grant in an interdisciplinary area that integrates social sciences, humanities, and technology. They can choose to study and intern abroad in Heidelberg, Germany, or participate in a social entrepreneurship experience in Guatemala. They can select from more than 800 student activities or service initiatives. These programs will continue to be refined and updated to ensure an undergraduate educational experience that prepares our students for lives of impact and leadership in an increasingly diverse, globalized world by emphasizing problem solving and the capacity to translate knowledge and curricular content into real-world experiences.

We have done well, but we must continue to create an even more outstanding undergraduate experience for talented students to foster creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and reasoning, appreciation for diversity and cultural perspectives, and strong communication and leadership skills.

In evaluating our success in achieving excellence in undergraduate education, we will consider the following:

• Quality of entering students as measured by SAT and GPA;

• Graduation rates and time to degree;

• Number of degrees in STEM disciplines;

• Percentage of smaller classes (with less than 20 students) and larger classes (with more than 50 students);

• Percentage of courses taught by full-time faculty with terminal degrees in their field;

• Number of new courses, concentrations, minors, and majors aligned to key interdisciplinary areas;

• Number of new professional development programs;

• Diversity of students;

• Support for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds;

• Percentage of students who pursue undergraduate research, experiential learning, and internships;

• Percentage of students who pursue study abroad activities and/or international internship and service learning activities;

• Percentage of students who receive prestigious national fellowships;

• Rankings in U.S. News & World Report;

• Continued support for and enhancement of our excellent general education initiatives.

How can we continue to excel in and further improve undergraduate education? Through this academic vision,
we will:

• Increase our undergraduate student body through a carefully articulated enrollment management plan and the construction of two new residence halls for our current Honors and new STEM Honors program as well as for our STEM Living and Learning Communities;

• Increase housing opportunities for undergraduate students to enable additional students from our University as well as exchange students to have more opportunities for on-campus housing;

• Increase the number of Living and Learning Communities from 17 to 25 over the next decade;

• Invest in a more comprehensive, personalized, and effective advising program;

• Increase early and comprehensive opportunities for career development;

• Invest in additional internships both on- and off-campus;

• Continue to create innovative programs and opportunities at our regional campuses;

• Enhance the use of distance instructional technologies to enrich learning and provide opportunities for meaningful online education;

• Fund new, innovative experiential learning experiences;

• Reward excellence in teaching;

• Increase engagement and outreach with Connecticut K-12 schools to identify academically talented students who will succeed in our programs;

• Work closely with K-12 schools to enhance students’ learning experiences in STEM-related areas to prepare for Next Generation Connecticut initiatives;

• Ensure an undergraduate educational experience that prepares our students for lives of impact and leadership in an increasingly diverse, globalized world by emphasizing problem solving and the capacity to translate knowledge and skills into action;

• Adapt educational practices to provide more interdisciplinary knowledge and increase opportunities for education in areas of pressing need and interest;

• Strengthen essential teaching support services and increase the quality of instruction in large-lecture and small-course formats, whether they be taught online, hybrid, or in-person;

• Place specific emphasis on meaningful honors programs and support programs for students who come to us from homes and schools where poverty prevails;

• Expand opportunities for students to engage with faculty mentors in research and creative activities;

• Increase opportunities for participation in study abroad;

• Continue to invest in the creation of a world-class library to guide our path as a leading public research institution.