The entering freshman class of 1,840 at the University of Central Arkansas, with an average ACT score of 24.5 and composite high school GPA of 3.57, is the most academically qualified in school history. Additionally, the full-time freshman-to-sophomore retention rate sets a new university record, according to preliminary census data released by the university Sept. 6.

This year’s incoming class broke the record of last year’s class and makes three consecutive years that new university standards have been set for academic qualifications. The fall of 2019 has also found the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate improve for the second consecutive year. At 74.7%, the retention rate for the fall 2018 cohort sets a new high for UCA and follows improvements from 74.1% in 2017 and 72.1% in 2016.

“The academic record of this year’s freshman class is impressive, and I am proud to have these Bears join our UCA family,” said UCA President Houston Davis. “We are also pleased to see our retention of students continuing to increase and help us meet the challenge that the state of Arkansas has made through the new outcomes-based funding formula. We are focused on creating a challenging collegiate experience that ensures that students make it from freshman orientation to graduation. Our outstanding classroom instruction, best-practice student success initiatives and talented, supportive faculty and staff give our students the foundation to succeed at UCA and beyond as alumni.”

UCA is also experiencing significant growth in recently established academic programs. The university’s largest college, the College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, grew its graduate program enrollments to 775, an overall 5.5% increase, and continues to see undergraduate enrollments increase led by the relatively new RN to BSN program that now has 54 students enrolled, compared to seven students at launch in 2016-17.

Likewise, the newly established Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity program has 57 students enrolled this fall, up from nine students at the program launch just last fall, and the newly established Bachelor of Science in computer engineering doubled its first-year enrollment to 42 majors this fall.

The overall university fall 2019 total headcount enrollment is at 10,870, a slight decrease from a year ago. First-time freshman enrollment is 1,840 and — while still representing the second-largest incoming university class in the state — the number is down from 2,033 a year ago.

“Enrollment numbers are important, but they can fluctuate with the number of graduating high school seniors and trends in unemployment rates,” said Davis. “We are firmly committed to the academic success and graduation of the students admitted to UCA and feel very confident that UCA is poised to thrive in a new era where the state of Arkansas is challenging us to focus on outcomes rather than enrollments. We are excited about this direction and know that our commitment to student success and academic excellence will continue to attract, retain and graduate students.”

Founded in 1907, the University of Central Arkansas dedicates itself to academic vitality, integrity and diversity. The university strives to provide strong academic programs to meet the diverse needs of those it serves through innovations in learning, scholarship and creative endeavors. UCA is committed to the intellectual, social and personal development of its students, the advancement of knowledge through excellence in teaching, and research and service to the community.