Freshman Class Ties for Brightest

September 02, 2013

Gonzaga News Service 

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga’s new freshman class matches the strongest academic profile of any entering class in the University’s 126-year history, ties for the largest class ever, and is the most racially diverse in history with students of color comprising 22.7 percent — nearly 1 in 4 — of the estimated 1,240 freshmen. Fall undergraduate classes began Sept. 3.

Based on preliminary estimates, Gonzaga’s Class of 2017 has a 3.73 grade-point average and test scores of 27 (average ACT composite) and 1,201 (average SAT composite). The academic profile of this year’s freshman class equals the Class of 2015, Gonzaga’s strongest previous enrolling class. The size of this year’s freshman class tops the University’s enrollment target and matches Gonzaga’s previous largest entering class, the Class of 2013.

“The members of the incoming Class of 2017 are phenomenal. It is the most engaged class that I have seen in my time here,” said Julie McCulloh, dean of admission. “New Zags bring a vast array of unique experiences and perspectives. I can’t wait to see the positive impact they will have on the Gonzaga community.”

Big Interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Gonzaga’s freshman class also is decidedly focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the STEM disciplines, a cultural emphasis in recent years. Jolanta Weber, assistant academic vice president and registrar, expects some 300 freshmen engineering students for a total of nearly 800 engineering undergraduates — up sharply from fall 2009 figures of 178 freshmen engineering students and 513 total undergraduate engineering majors.

“In total, we estimate that about 53-54 percent of our incoming students will major in engineering, nursing, human physiology, and the natural and life sciences — the highest in Gonzaga’s history,” Weber said.

Intellectual and cultural diversity are intrinsic to Jesuit education, and Gonzaga has been effective in its efforts to diversify the student body to better represent the world in recent years, resulting in 22.6 percent students of color in the Class of 2016, 19.6 percent in the Class of 2015, 18.2 percent in the Class of 2014, and 19.5 percent in the Class of 2013. Also, nearly 20 percent (19.5) of Gonzaga freshmen are first-generation college students. Gonzaga defines first-generation college students as those who do not have a parent with a bachelor’s degree.

Demographically, the entering class includes 54.6 percent women and 45.3 percent men. Once again, the majority of new freshmen, 48.4 percent, hail from the state of Washington (46.4 percent in fall 2012). California remains Gonzaga’s No. 2 state with 19.2 percent of incoming freshmen from the Golden State (20.1 percent, 2012). Oregon is home to 8.5 percent of the class (9.6 percent, 2012), while 5.8 percent of students hail from Colorado (5.5 percent, 2012), followed by Idaho (3.9 percent) and Arizona (2.9 percent) among others. This class represents 29 states — from as far away as Massachusetts, Virginia and Kentucky — six countries (including the United States), and several U.S. territories. With respect to religion, 50.6 percent of freshmen indicated they are Roman Catholic. 

The new class is packed with leaders: 20 student body presidents, 140 class presidents or officers, 685 with leadership experience, 493 members of student government, and 1,060 involved in volunteerism. The class also includes 149 students who took part in speech or debate, 1,034 participants in high school athletics or outdoor activities, 357 musicians, 41 Boy Scout Eagle Award winners, and six Girl Scouts Award Winners.

Overall, Gonzaga officials estimate total fall undergraduate enrollment at 4,980 students, graduate enrollment at 2,300, and the Gonzaga University School of Law with approximately 410 students.