New Undergrad Sightings

by Lynn Bell

Undergraduate students have been a fairly rare species around the Curry School for the past 25 years. In 1986 the majority of our undergraduate degree programs were eliminated to make way for the five-year teacher education program. Since then, our only undergraduate programs have been in communication disorders and kinesiology and have typically accounted for less than ten percent of our student population.

Undergraduate numbers have been gradually creeping up since 2010, however, and are set to take some major leaps in the near future. Three hundred new undergrads over the next five years is the Curry School’s share of the University’s 1,500-student enrollment increase negotiated with the Commonwealth.

Three hundred new undergrads over the next five years is the Curry School’s share of the University’s 1,500-student enrollment increase.

The Curry School has several strategies underway to meet this target. Initially, we are expanding enrollment in our existing undergraduate programs. The Kinesiology Program, which has traditionally recruited students from the College for a third- and fourth-year program, is leading the transition. This spring, for the first time, the program accepted applications directly from high school students. The class of 2016 will be the first to benefit from four full years in the program. For the 26 slots available for First Years, the program received an overwhelming 472 applications.

“This change has been received with warm enthusiasm from students as well as alumni,” says Lisa Womack, an instructor in the kinesiology program. “Students see the benefits of being able to begin kinesiology course work earlier, as well as having a longer period of time to explore the field.”

The Communications Disorders program increased new student enrollment by 78 percent in fall 2011, accepting 34 Third Years. Fifty new students per year is the target enrollment they are working toward, said program director Randall R. Robey.

An even more exciting opportunity opened by the University’s expansion is the potential for new bachelor’s degree programs that draw from across broad thematic areas of expertise within the Curry School.

In addition to these new undergraduate majors, the school is “opening up” Curry to U.Va. undergrads, in general, as a place where they can connect academically in ways they may not have considered before, said Dean Bob Pianta.

He noted that a new minor called Global Studies in Education is already being offered to students in the College of Arts & Sciences. Bob Covert’s course on Multicultural Education has always drawn large classes of students from the College. We will begin to market other individual courses, as well, such as Hip-Hop and Social Consciousness taught by Derrick Alridge and Mental Health Professionals in Juvenile Justice taught by Dewey Cornell.

See our new website designed specifically for recruiting undergraduates at http://discoveringcurry.com