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Caldwell, N.J., Aug. 29, 2016 – Caldwell University welcomed its largest freshman class ever at the start of the 2016-17 academic year with 406 students. Undergraduate enrollment is also at an all-time high.

Incoming students took part in Welcome Weekend activities Aug. 27-29 including a barbecue with President Nancy Blattner, Music under the Stars on the lawn, a trip to a Mets game, Mass and the new-student convocation ceremony.

Blattner formally welcomed the Class of 2020 at the convocation, saying, “Today begins a momentous period in your life because you are beginning your college experience.” She encouraged the incoming students to learn about the rich Catholic Dominican history and heritage and to reflect on the university’s commitment to the four foundational pillars of prayer, study, community and mission or service.

Commenting on the Dominican pillar of mission or service, she said that one of the most exciting opportunities awaiting the students was to volunteer. “Whether you choose to participate on a Midnight Run into New York City to feed and clothe the homeless, sign up for a weeklong experience in Appalachia over spring or winter break or decide to accompany the group traveling to Central America to work in jungle villages, your life will forever be transformed by participating in service projects at Caldwell.”

Shyam Sharma’ 17, president of the Student Government Association, welcomed the new students to the Caldwell University community.  “Over the next few years, you’ll see yourself and your peers grow personally and professionally in ways you never thought possible.  The first step is to go through this journey with an open mind.  Use this opportunity to try new things, whether that comes in the form of a global service trip, trying a new class or even the fusion entrees in the dining hall.”

Melissa Brown, a freshman from Brick, New Jersey, majoring in education and history, was looking forward to her college career. She said that the orientation leaders were fantastic and that she appreciated “how diverse the community is.” She enjoyed the Welcome Weekend activities because “they kept everybody involved and busy the whole time.”

The four largest freshman classes in the history of the university, and of the college, have enrolled in four of the last five years. This year’s class is almost 30 percent higher than last year’s, which was the second-largest class in history and is now bumped down to third.

“We are not sacrificing quality; the average SAT score for our regular admits is exactly the same as the prior year, and we have many more of them this year,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management and Communications Joseph Posillico.

With such a large freshman class, undergraduate enrollment is approaching nearly 1,400 students this fall for the first time in school history. The school hit other first-time milestones, reaching 1,100 students in 2011, 1,200 students in 2013 and 1,400 students this fall. From 2009 to fall 2016 the university has experienced a 44 percent increase in traditional students, a tremendous accomplishment at a time when there are fewer high school graduates and many other colleges and universities are experiencing enrollment declines.

The university is also welcoming its largest class of international students this fall with students from all over the world including Asia, South America, the Caribbean and Europe.