Record-Setting Year Starting Up at UConn

By Jamie Ratliff
|  Friday, Aug 23, 2013  |  Updated 5:13 PM EDT
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Record-Setting Year Starting Up at UConn

NBCConnecticut.com

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Freshmen and their families carried boxes, bags and mixed emotions across the University of Connecticut campus today as they hurried to settle in before the first day of classes.

The Class of 2017 has already made quite the impression. The university is calling its freshman class the most diverse it's ever had.

The class comprises more than 3,700 students.

"It's really great with all this diversity," said UConn freshman Umbreen Majid. "Everyone around me is basically on the same level as me, and that makes me feel great."

But that's not the only record the students are breaking.

The incoming class has the highest average SAT scores UConn has ever seen, the most valedictorians and the largest number of Honors students enrolling in a single year.

"I think it's an honor to be a part of this," said freshman Keyanna Lawrence.

For now, most first-year students are just trying to acclimate to their surroundings. To make the transition easier, volunteers offered to help them move in.

The school also staggered move-in dates in an effort to cut back on congestion. School officials are asking everyone to take extra care on the roads and to keep a close eye on crosswalks.

UConn is also welcoming its largest-ever group of incoming professors.

The university hired 165 professors, increasing its total number of educators to more than 1600.

"It tells the students they're very lucky to be admitted to our university at this particular time in our history," said Sally Reis, UConn Vice Provost of Academic Affairs.

Reis says some new hires replace faculty who left at the end of last year, but, thanks to a recent tuition increase, the school has been able to hire with the goal of more than just filling vacated spots.

"We're one of the top public universities in the country, but we want to be better. We want to have more grants. We want to do more research," said Reis.

For incoming professors, jumping into UConn now is an opportunity to help make a difference.

Professor Lewis Gordon described UConn as "part of a global environment where it has impact all across the world."

"There's a lot of dynamism here, a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm about what can be achieved. I very much want to be a part of that," said UConn Professor Mitchell Green.

Professor Marina Astitha said she felt the possibilities for growth at UConn were so great that she and her family moved from Greece so she could take the job.

"We're very excited to be here and part of the community, especially science and research," said Astitha.

The university hopes that, with its new students and faculty joining together, the possibilities will be endless.

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