UT president speaks to incoming freshmen


Andrew Torrey

President Bill Powers speaks Wednesday afternoon to incoming freshmen during the first orientation session of the summer.

Bobby Blanchard

At orientation Wednesday, UT President William Powers Jr. stressed the importance of graduating in four years in his speech to 1200 incoming freshman.

These 1200 students are a part of the incoming freshman class, estimated to be at least 8000 students — an increase of 800 to 1000 freshmen from previous years.

Orientation was restructured this summer to support the University’s plan to increase four-year graduation rates. Along with additional sessions and extended meetings with colleges and schools, Powers spoke to incoming students at the welcoming session for the first time in four years. In his speech, Powers said the University was committed to keeping costs as low as possible for students.

“There is no greater way to save than to make it an expeditious, well thought out pathway through the University,” Powers said. “That requires planning on your part and we’re going to help you do that at orientation.”

Incoming freshman Katherine Hyde said registration was her biggest concern and she was seeking more information about the process.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Hyde said. “My friend was telling me that I will be so mad by the end of it.”

Freshman registration will happen on the third day of orientation. During the welcoming session, the phrase “four-year graduation” was used more than eight times in different presentations. The University is aiming to increase graduation rate to 70 percent by 2016, which is when the current incoming freshman class is expected to graduate.

“There are some challenges from a big class size,” said Powers at a question-and-answer session after his speech. “It does mean in the freshman building block course, from chemistry to math to government, we will have to have the capacity for that.”

But Powers said as long as the class size is not consistently large for the next few years, the University’s resources would not be tasked.

“I think it’s a task we will attend to, but I don’t anticipate particular problems from the size of the entering class,” Powers said.