Towson University welcomes future Tigers to TU4U

By Ray Feldmann on April 5, 2018

A celebration of all things TU, the annual admissions event was the largest ever — welcoming nearly 3,000 admitted students to campus

Excitement fills Towson University's SECU Arena for the annual TU4U admissions event. The 2018 version could be the biggest TU4U event ever.
Excitement fills Towson University's SECU Arena for the annual TU4U admissions event. The 2018 version could be the biggest TU4U event ever.

More than 2,700 freshmen and 2,300 transfer students will arrive on campus this August as members of the Towson University class of 2022.  Most will come from Maryland, but many will travel here from 24 other states including Florida, Texas, Maine, California and Washington.

Besides being geographically distributed throughout the country, this incoming class will be the most diverse and academically prepared in the university’s storied 152-year history, buoyed by an influx of minority students in recent years that reflect TU’s relentless commitment to diversity and inclusion.

They come to Towson for a variety of reasons. Opportunity. Mentorship. Strong academics. Internships and workforce readiness.  Location. And an environment that many freshmen students say feels like home.

Bishop McNamara High School senior Skylar Watson will be one of those newly arriving freshmen.

The 18-year-old Bowie, Maryland native committed to TU earlier this week after considering more than a dozen other colleges and universities – seven of which she personally visited.

For Watson, the final decision came down to a few important factors.

“I chose Towson because of its great reputation and business program,” Watson said.  “I have several cousins who graduated from Towson and have had great careers. What separated Towson from the others is its great location and overall amazing campus feel. It feels like a place I can be myself.”

That “amazing campus feel” and authenticity were especially important for Watson, who is African American.

“The increasing diversity on Towson’s campus allows for better learning discussions,” Watson pointed out, “because there are a variety of students from different backgrounds that have different perspectives.”

In recent years, TU’s minority and African American enrollment numbers have been trending upward.  Last fall, 44 percent of the incoming class of 2021 identified as minority students and 22 percent were African-American.  Although still known as a predominantly white institution, more than 43 percent of the university’s fall 2017 enrollment was non-white and nearly 20 percent (19.7) were African-American.

Those positive statistics reflect a trend, not a one-semester anomaly.

Although high school students still have until May 1 to make their final decisions, as of this week African-American undergraduate enrollment is 31 percent ahead of this same time last year, while overall minority enrollment is up 21 percent.

Three months into her third year as Towson University’s president, Kim Schatzel has created a culture around diversity, inclusion and acceptance.  For her, they are the cornerstones of a successful professional career and a successful post-university life.

“Diversity is essential for social justice, an imperative for a high quality university education, and — as the percentages of high school graduates are increasingly students of color — a favorable business model,” Schatzel said. “That includes diversity of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status and levels of ableness.”

Schatzel also takes pride in the university’s lack of achievement gap – the difference in graduation rates between students of color and the overall total.

“Our most recent data shows there was no difference between minority and overall six-year graduation rates — both are 72 percent,” Schatzel noted.  “Our African-American graduation rate is 74 percent. That is higher than our overall graduation rate and the latest national average, which is 40 percent.”

Schatzel talks these days about the university’s “inflection points” and forward momentum – themes she is likely to reiterate at her April 11 Spring Address to campus.  Nowhere was that momentum more evident than in TU’s enrollment numbers and attendance at this weekend’s TU4U event for admitted students at SECU Arena.

TU welcomed more than 1,400 admitted students to TU4U on Friday, an increase of 34 percent over last year’s total of 1,084.  Despite predictions of snow earlier in the week, Saturday's attendance also exceeded 1,400, which was 16 percent above the second day TU4U total in 2017.

Those numbers are a strong indication that TU is becoming much more of a first choice destination school for this current group of in-state and out-of-state high school seniors and transfers.

For a lot of the incoming class of 2022 freshmen and transfer students arriving this August, strong academics and TU’s convenient campus location played a role in their final decision-making.

“The opportunity to get an undergraduate degree, and then go on to a physical therapy school, is the main reason I’m coming to Towson,” said Caira Fields, a senior at James M. Bennett High School in Salisbury, Maryland.

“Towson stood out compared to other schools I applied to,” said Abby Ansell, a senior at North Point High School in Waldorf, Maryland. “It is close to so many exciting things and the area is full of new opportunities for me.”

Skylar Watson, along with thousands of her future classmates-to-be, poured into SECU Arena this past weekend for the most well-attended TU4U in university history. It is there that their TU journeys began.

And as Schatzel is fond of saying, for these thousands of new Tigers, there truly are great things ahead.