OU to cap freshmen class numbers, OSU won't

Tuesday, May 28th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The University of Oklahoma will limit the number of freshmen enrolling in its classes, the first time the university has done so.

Oklahoma State University, however, has no such plans.

Starting in the summer of 2003, OU will allow only 3,740 freshman to enroll. As many as 400 students may be put on a waiting list.

``It's a numbers issue,'' said OU Vice Provost Paul Bell. ``This is actually the number of students that we think we can provide a good education.''

OU officials say recent freshmen classes have been so large, the university has had problems providing enough classrooms, dormitory space and professors.

``A real problem is that our faculty has not grown in proportion to the number of students,'' Bell said. ``We've been adding new faculty since David Boren became president, but this year, we're not going to add faculty, at least in significant numbers.''

Officials hope the move also increases OU's stature among regional and national institutions.

``This is consistent with the approaches used by other top-ranked public universities to manage their enrollments,'' OU President David Boren wrote in a memo to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

In-state students who score a 24 on the ACT are automatically admitted to OU. Out-of-state students have to achieve a 26. Those standards will stay the same.

The university is toughening alternative entrance requirements.

Now, a student can get into OU by scoring a 22 on the ACT and being in the top 30 percent of his or her class.

Beginning next summer, only the top 25 percent will be admitted. Those who fall into that 26 percent to 30 percent tier will go on a waiting list.

Meanwhile in Stillwater, OSU officials say they aren't as concerned about national rankings.

Oklahoma State and other land-grant colleges don't fare very well because continuing education classes are considered ``extension courses'' and not credited as part of the university's mission, said Natalea Watkins, assistant vice president of communications.

Watkins said the university believes retention rates are a better indication of how a university is doing.

OSU's retention rate is 85 percent, while OU's retention rate is around 80 percent.

``This means we are retaining students from the freshman to sophomore year,'' Watkins said. ``It means that the students we admit as freshmen are able to manage the work, so why should we be limiting those students? The 85 percent is very much a validation that they are doing great.''

Last fall, OSU admitted 3,209 freshmen. Watkins said the university expects to increase freshman enrollment by 300 to 500 students next fall.

``We've been on a multiyear program of adding and improving student housing, so we are in great shape there. We've also been renovating classrooms,'' she said.

``But we are tight in faculty numbers and will not be able to add class sections this fall. That will mean students may not get every class they want, at the time they want.''