Fall semester classes are now underway on Washington State University campuses throughout the state. It is great to see both new and returning students making their way around campus again!

While we don’t have official numbers yet, we are on track to have another large freshman class this year, nearly 4,000 again, which would be the third largest in the history of the university.

The nature of our student body is changing as well as the numbers. For example, the number of transfer students is up. For the first time, second-year medical students in the WWAMI Medical Education program are continuing their education at WSU Spokane instead of having to go to Seattle; there are 19 students in this first cohort. Pharmacy students have moved from the Pullman campus to WSU Spokane. WSU Vancouver and WSU Tri-Cities have both just enrolled their largest freshman classes ever.

Thanks to the efforts of John Fraire and the Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment, we have made dramatic progress in diversifying the WSU student body. This semester, a full third of our freshman class come from ethnically diverse backgrounds; that number five years ago was just 12 percent. That kind of transformational growth is an encouraging sign that people from diverse backgrounds feel safe and welcome enough to pursue their higher education dreams at WSU. That also means our entire Cougar community has the opportunity for a much richer educational experience.

Regardless of background, majors pursued, or campuses attended, we thank and appreciate each and every one of our students for choosing Washington State University. It’s going to be a great year. Go Cougs!