Wilkes University opens its 83rd academic year by welcoming the largest undergraduate student body in the institution’s history. When classes start on Aug. 31, an estimated 2,400 full- and part-time undergraduate students will be taking classes. Move-in day for first-year students will be on Friday, Aug. 28 beginning at 6 a.m. and continuing through the morning.
Wilkes students and faculty returning for the new academic year also will find the largest number of residential students to live on-campus in University history, with 1,083 living in residence halls. The number puts the University at 98 percent of the 1097-student capacity in on-campus housing.
The record number for the undergraduate student body is the result of three of the largest freshmen classes in Wilkes history entering the University during the last four years. That includes this year’s first-year class with an expected 614 students, followed by 611 first-year students in fall 2012 and 606 in fall 2013. About 150 transfer student are expected to join the Wilkes campus this year. The record student body reflects University efforts to support and retain its students through their years at Wilkes.
Students are returning to a campus that has been transformed by the new Campus Gateway. The $1 million project has created a 14-foot-wide, well-lit pedestrian walkway from South Main Street, across South Franklin Street and into the center of the Wilkes campus on the Fenner Quadrangle. The walkway begins between the University Center on Main and 141 South Main St. The project includes two new pedestrian walkways, one on South Main Street and the second on South Franklin, that will enhance student safety.
This year Wilkes also welcomes the first 35 students admitted to the University’s first honors program. The students went through a competitive admissions process to enter the program, which includes a housing grant and grants for research and study abroad. Honors program students will be housed in historic Barre Hall, which has been completely renovated. The University’s plans to rededicate the building in honor of Francis Michelini, Ph.D., Wilkes’ second president.
Additions to the Wilkes curriculum in the 2015-2016 academic year include two new undergraduate majors, a new minor and two new master’s degree programs. New undergraduate majors include bachelor’s degree programs in neuroscience and secondary education, an energy studies minor and a 4+1 master’s degree in bioengineering which allows students to earn a master’s degree with one additional year of study. A new master’s degree program in nursing informatics launches online this year as well.
The new year also sees the return of men’s lacrosse and the addition of men’s volleyball to Wilkes’ intercollegiate sports offerings. The additions bring the total number of men’s and women’s sports offered at the University to 21.
Other new additions to campus include updated and new dining options under a University food service contract with new provider Aramark. These include a Which Wich sandwich shop in the Henry Student Center – the first of its kind in Pennsylvania – and Greens to Go and a P.O.D. convenience store added to Stark Learning Center. The addition of a full Starbucks store in the University Center on Main is planned for the spring semester.