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October 9, 2000

Despite tuition hike, fall class
'strongest ever seen'

By Michael Terrazas

When the School of Nursing was faced last year with whether to increase its tuition for 2000­01 to match that of its peers-at $18,900 per year it was more than $1,000 below the average for the top U.S. schools-Dean Marla Salmon said it was no easy decision.

"It was very hard, and we made the decision in mid-recruitment," Salmon said. Considering the school's declining enrollment in recent years, her trepidation was understandable.

Did the tuition hike hurt? Evidently not. Part of the financial burden was offset by the fact the school also raised student support and scholarship by commensurate levels, but the strongest evidence is the fall 2000 entering class itself. The school had modestly predicted simply a slowing of the decreasing student numbers, but it got something more.

"This," said nursing admissions Director Lucy Leusch, "is the strongest and most diverse class we have ever seen."

By the numbers, the undergraduates total 67, 62 women and five men, with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.24. More than a third (25) are pursuing their second degree, and 25 percent are merit scholars. Additionally, 33 percent are minority students.

On the graduate side, this fall's class numbers 63 (59 women, four men) with an average GPA of 3.41 and average GRE score of 1551. The class is 16 percent minority; 70 percent full time, 30 percent part time; and 32 percent are merit scholars.

"We haven't lowered our standards-in every measure this is the same caliber of students or better as we've had in the past," Salmon said in explaining how her school attracted its strongest class in years after raising tuition by 25 percent. "We're getting people who had decided to be lawyers or business people but who were not getting their needs met in the those fields and made a quick change over to nursing."

One factor that certainly didn't hurt is the new building into which the School of Nursing will move, starting in January. Situated at the corner of Clifton and Houston Mill roads, the $22 million facility features state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and examination and consultation spaces.

Salmon said one of aspect of the new class about which she is most excited is the strong minority presence. "You can hardly find minorities in graduate nursing programs," she said.

Now her biggest challenge, she said, is continuing the "exciting trajectory" whose momentum has been quickened by the new class and the new building.

Saying the school is enjoying broader support from both Health Sciences and the University as a whole, as well as partner organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Salmon said her goal is to make Emory's one of the top five nursing schools in the country within four years.

"These students reflect who we are," Salmon said. "Seeing these students embody what we're trying to do and what's unique about our school is very exciting."

Back to Emory Report Oct. 9, 2000