By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director
Fall term began Aug. 24 with approximately 28,000 students arriving on campus for the first day of classes and for Fall Welcome events, including a Student Success Fair featuring a free “meet and eat” ice cream social sponsored by the SJSU Alumni Association.
Students crowded the San Carlos plaza for the fair, moved from its usual spot along El Paseo de Cesar E. Chavez to make way for construction crews, who spent the summer operating a towering pile driver building a foundation for the new Student Union. Students also packed the Spartan Bookstore, offering new products and services under Barnes & Noble management.
The campus crowd included 4,000 freshmen, SJSU’s largest first-year class in ten years, the result of more applicants meeting admissions standards, coupled with a greater percentage of those admitted completing the intent to enroll process, including orientation and registration.
The bumper crop of freshmen resulted in a campus housing shortage. Beginning Aug. 20, roughly 90 returning students who had planned to live in the dorms were assigned to the Clarion Hotel, where at least one resident found “the amenities outweigh any inconvenience.” Meanwhile, over 3,600 students settled into Campus Village, Joe West Hall and The Bricks.
Dr. Mohammad Qayoumi began the week by delivering his first Fall Welcome Address as SJSU president, announcing that his office would hold 40 town hall meetings during September so that the campus community can begin sketching out a new strategic plan for the university.
The president also highlighted good news on academic performance. “Our last two graduating classes, for both first-time frosh and transfers, have shown marked improvement of about five percent increases in six-year graduation rates,” he told the 800 or so students, faculty and staff who filled Morris Dailey Auditorium.
Factors that could be contributing to higher grad rates include intense academic advising, featuring online resources and a focus on seniors with 120 or more credits. Other factors might include the CSU’s Early Assessment Program and SJSU’s MUSE program, and economic conditions like tuition increases and a competitive job market.
A marked improvement in the academic performance of our football team means the Spartans will begin the 2011 season against Stanford Sept. 3 with a full complement of 85 scholarship players. The good news came as the athletics department completed a year-long self study, culminating in its third NCAA certification.