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Lafayette’s national reputation for academic excellence has helped it bring in one of the most outstanding incoming classes ever while being more selective in admissions for the fifth consecutive year.

As of June 7, 603 students have paid deposits signifying their intention to enroll in the Class of 2005. Lafayette offered admission to only 2,020 applicants, an acceptance rate of 38.9 percent. This was down from 40.3 percent last year and 48.2 percent the year before. The proportion of admitted students enrolling, or yield, is a record-setting 29.9 percent.

The proportion of students ranking in the top 10 percent of their high-school class is a record 56 percent, up from 55 percent last year and 51 percent the year before. The average combined SAT score is 1248.

In the last five years, Lafayette has lowered its acceptance rate by a factor of 39 percent and raised the yield by a factor of 47 percent. The ratio of students in the top 10 percent has grown by a factor of 51 percent and there has been a net gain of 32 points in the SAT.

Lafayette received a record 5,192 applications for the class, an increase of 3 percent over last year’s record-setting applicant pool and an increase of 19.7 percent over the average number of applications received during the previous five years.

Carol Rowlands, director of admissions, says, “When they tell us why they applied to Lafayette, more students are citing guidebooks where Lafayette has received increased recognition. More and more, Lafayette is seen as being among the elite institutions.”

Because of its admissions selectivity and student quality Lafayette is classified among America’s 56 most academically competitive colleges by Barron’s, publishers of the well-known guidebooks Profiles of American Colleges and Guide to the Most Competitive Colleges.

The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2001 says, “With a growing focus on academics, Lafayette is well on its way to being considered one of the finest liberal arts colleges on the East Coast.”

The new class is split virtually evenly between women (48.9 percent) and men (51.1 percent). There are 43 minority students from the United States, including 36 African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Students of color, including those from foreign countries, make up nearly 10 percent of the class. International students come from 28 countries of citizenship.

“In spite of Lafayette’s reputation for academic excellence, a few things still tend to surprise people about the college, including our resources — the size of the endowment and the quality of the facilities,” Rowlands says. “When they tour the campus and look around and experience Lafayette first-hand, they come away extremely impressed.”

Rowlands cites Lafayette’s powerful resources as a reason for the increased interest among top prospective students. In a recent in-depth series on financial challenges facing private Philadelphia-area colleges and universities, The Philadelphia Inquirer rated Lafayette’s financial strength fourth among 41 schools, trailing only Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr, and ahead of Bucknell, Lehigh, and Franklin and Marshall. (Penn and Temple were not ranked.)

“The [financial] squeeze has barely ruffled such elite colleges as Swarthmore, Haverford, and Lafayette, which have national reputations and rich endowments,” the Inquirer said. “If anything, these highly selective schools have grown stronger in recent years.”

The success of the Lafayette Leadership Campaign, which now exceeds $200 million, is testimony to Lafayette’s resources.

The campaign has enhanced and improved every aspect of the Lafayette Experience. The largest fundraising effort in Lafayette’s history and one of the most ambitious campaigns ever undertaken by an undergraduate institution of Lafayette’s size, it has surpassed its goal not once but twice since its public launch in October 1997. It will conclude this fall.

The campaign’s impact on facilities has been immense. More than $100 million in new academic, residential, and recreational facilities have been undertaken in the past five years.

The $25 million Hugel Science Center and the $3.5 million Williams Visual Arts Building were completed this spring. Kirby Hall of Civil Rights underwent an $8.5 million renovation.

Currently in progress is a $10 million transformation of Alumni Memorial Gymnasium into Oechsle Hall to house psychology and neuroscience programs and installation of a new high-speed network that will transport data, voice, and video throughout the campus as fast as is technologically possible.

Lafayette will completely renovate and modernize its entire 90,000-square-foot engineering complex by August 2003 and name it the Acopian Engineering Center in recognition of a major gift from Easton, Pa., businessman Sarkis Acopian’51 and his wife, Bobbye. Acopian is the founder of Acopian Technical Company, Palmer Township, Pa. Work will begin in December.

The top priority during the final months of the campaign is completing the funding for a $15 million expansion and modernization of Skillman Library.

Classrooms across campus have been equipped with the latest in instructional technology. The campaign is also strengthening academics by providing funds for new faculty chairs, faculty and curriculum development, and increased opportunities for collaborative student/faculty research in all disciplines.

Enhancing student life outside the classroom are the $26.5 million Allan P. Kirby Sports Center, which opened last spring, and $7 million Keefe Hall, opened in 1999. Phase one of a $4.7 million modernization of South College allowed more than 100 students to occupy the renovated east wing this spring. Renovation of the west wing, to be named Jesser Hall, will be finished in August.

Lafayette has also renovated P T Farinon House and Conway House, two residences for first-year students. The South College project is the first in a series of additional planned moves to raise all residence halls to the standard of Keefe Hall.

Academic scholarships awarded through the Lafayette Scholars program are also helping Lafayette achieve its goal of being the college of choice for top applicants. Securing $30 million in new endowment for merit-based academic scholarships and need-based aid is the largest single goal of the campaign.

Rowlands notes the draw of academic scholarships has two dimensions, recognition and financial assistance. “The fact that we recognize students’ academic achievements in high school through our Marquis and Trustee scholarships makes people take notice. Many outstanding students seek out schools that are going to recognize their academic excellence.”

Marquis Scholars were among the most distinguished graduates in the Class of 2001. Of the 43 Marquis Scholars receiving degrees at Lafayette’s 166th commencement in May, 36 earned Latin honors with grade point averages of 3.50 or above, including 13 graduating summa cum laude (3.80 or higher). Fifteen earned departmental honors for outstanding performance in writing a senior thesis or conducting senior research. Twenty were members of Phi Beta Kappa, 8 were in Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society. Twenty-two of them won or shared more than 50 major annual Lafayette prizes for academic achievement and leadership.

Marquis Scholars’ academic achievements were also recognized nationally. Steve Ryder, a mechanical engineering major from Pitman, N.J., received a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to study nanotechnology at the University of California, Berkeley, beginning this fall. Since the program’s inception in 1989, only five percent of NDSEG Fellowship applicants have been accepted.

Categorized in: Academic News