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LRU prepares for largest incoming freshman class in history
LRU prepares for largest incoming freshman class in history

Over 500 first-year students will be welcomed to the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University for move-in day Friday, Aug. 17, the largest incoming freshman class in University history.

The beginning of the 2018 – 2019 academic year will mark the 10th straight year of record enrollment at LR. The University has more than 2,700 students enrolled, including graduate students on the Asheville, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina, campuses. The University's incoming undergraduate students are comprised of approximately 520 first-year students and over 90 transfer and adult students. A total of 935 students will live in campus housing, 400 of which are first-year students.

"Enrollment growth has been driven through strategic use of data to identify students most likely to enroll, partnerships with athletics and our coaches, and increased opportunities for student scholarships," said Rachel Nichols, vice president for enrollment management. "Lenoir-Rhyne has an amazing team of enrollment counselors and marketing partners, and we work closely together to help expand our reach to targeted locations across the country."

International student enrollment has also risen, with 78 degree seeking and 10 nondegree seeking students expected this fall representing 26 countries. The top four countries represented by international students on LR's campus include the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, and Germany. New countries represented will include Iceland, United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Netherlands, and Nigeria.

According to Laura Dobson, Ph.D., director of international education, an increased number of LR students will also study abroad during the fall semester. "We will have 15 students participating in study abroad opportunities in the coming academic year, as opposed to only three students last academic year," Dobson said. "We have been strategically adding partnerships that enable us to send more students abroad for an entire semester. There are new bilateral exchange opportunities being offered in England, Spain, and Iceland."

Graduate programs

There are more than 30 graduate programs offered across all three of LR's graduate locations including the Hickory campus, Asheville Center, Columbia Center, and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary also located in Columbia. Nearly 900 students are enrolled in graduate programs at LR.

The University continues to strengthen its College of Health Sciences, with a Family Nurse Practitioner/Doctor of Nursing Practice program scheduled to begin this fall. A total of 34 students will comprise the inaugural FNP/DNP class. Last May, LR's Physician Assistant Studies program graduated its first cohort of 29 students, and next May, LR's Occupational Therapy program in Columbia will graduate its first cohort of 29 students.

"The College of Health Sciences has engaged in a strategic growth process which involves adding programs of need which also build upon Lenoir-Rhyne's history, tradition, and mission," said Michael McGee, Ed.D., dean of the College of Health Sciences. "Adding the first doctoral program in Lenoir-Rhyne's history this fall with the FNP/DNP further illustrates our goal to be a leader in health science education and to meet the needs of our communities."

Campus renovations

In preparation for the new academic year, LR's campus has undergone numerous renovations including landscaping and lighting enhancements on Seventh Avenue, and updates to Moretz Sports Athletics Complex which entailed the installation of permanent grandstands and a new track at Irwin Belk Track. Air-conditioning was also installed in Shuford Gym over the summer, and new air-conditioning units will be added to all locker rooms and Moretz Gym during the fall semester. Additionally, a videoboard will be added to the baseball field, a project expected for completion in September.

On Aug. 7, the Bears Club, in collaboration with the athletics department, announced at its annual dinner, plans for launching a $2.6 million fundraising campaign to build the Neill McGeachy Sports Performance Center. The center will be named for McGeachy '65, former director of intercollegiate athletics and executive director of the Bears Club, who died earlier this year.

Community service

All first-year students at LR will participate in Hands on Hickory, an annual project sponsored by the Office of Engaged and Global Learning and the Office of Student Life. During this year's Hands on Hickory project, LR students will volunteer at over 30 various nonprofit businesses, schools, or churches throughout the community. "Hands on Hickory attempts to expose and engage our new students in a community service experience as soon as they arrive on campus," said Rita Purvis '10, assistant director of career and community relations. "Students spend the morning learning about the mission of their assigned organization, and then they complete a service activity aimed at benefiting that nonprofit."

According to Purvis, during last year's Hands on Hickory project, 411 students and 27 faculty and staff members contributed 876 volunteer hours at 22 different nonprofit agencies in the Hickory area. During the 2017 – 2018 academic year LR students volunteered 9,947 hours of service, including 6,040 hours of service provided by student athletes and 1,312 hours provided by fraternity and sorority students.

Partnership with City of Hickory

Through the University City Commission, a board aimed at broadening the relationship between LR and its surrounding communities, the Friends of LR program was initiated. Currently there are over 60 local businesses that provide discounts to LR students, faculty, and staff members through the Friends of LR program. Recently, the UCC extended its Friends of LR program to LR's graduate campuses in Columbia and Asheville.

To view a full listing of discounts or to submit a request to be a participating business visit lr.edu/FriendsofLR.