Welcome to the annual donor’s issue of The Word, our way of saying “thank you” to the many special people from around the world who contribute to the continued betterment of the University of the Incarnate Word. Your generosity allowed us to experience another record-setting year at UIW.
This fall, we surpassed the 7,000 mark in student enrollment for the first time in our 128-year history. In a time when national studies had predicted enrollments at private universities in the United States would increase by less than 1 percent because of the recession, our enrollment of 7,166 represents a nearly 7 percent spike from last year. It also means the enrollment has nearly doubled in nine years.
In order to meet the needs of new and returning students, more than $2.5 million has been added to the financial aid budget since the summer. In all, more than $44 million in institutional financial aid and Tuition Equalization Grants (TEG) have been awarded this school year. But even with the increases, I’m pleased to report that we’ve maintained a substantial operating reserve and more importantly, have kept the budget in balance.
Let me highlight a couple of other items from our record enrollment. Approximately 13 percent of the student body is now of international origin, the highest percentage in our history, with the students representing more than 60 countries. We also had the second largest class of first-time freshmen. The key difference for the first-time freshmen this year compared to the past is their average SAT score, which was 991. That number represents an increase of 31 points from last year.
We attained two other institutional milestones this fall. Our football team played its first game, an upset of heavily favored Monterrey Tech, which hadn’t lost in three years. An energized crowd of more than 6,200 filled Benson Stadium, far and away exceeding our pre-game attendance projections.
Classes also started at the School of Optometry, which is now one of just 20 optometry programs in the U.S. and one of only two in Texas. The average GPA of the inaugural optometry class is 3.31, and the students represent the national top 1.5 percent of all college graduates.
Complimenting the doctor of optometry degree is an innovative undergraduate program, the Bachelor of Science in Vision Science. Its curriculum, structure and content will provide graduates with suitable credentials to embark on a biomedical graduate research career or to enter the workforce as a vision-science or ophthalmic-related specialist. It also provides students with an opportunity to earn a degree that will satisfy the requirements for entrance in the School of Optometry as well as other health-related professional programs.
I encourage you to read the rest of the magazine to catch up on what else has been happening at UIW, including a special partnership we’ve developed with The Carver Academy, the school founded by former Spurs great and recent NBA Hall of Fame inductee David Robinson.
It’s because of your commitment to our community that we can continue fulfilling Incarnate Word’s goal of offering students the best possible educational opportunities within a context of faith. And please remember, even in difficult economic times, an investment in higher education is something that will yield returns for a lifetime.
Special blessings on you and your loved ones throughout the remainder of 2009.
Louis J. Agnese Jr., Ph.D.