- Associated Press - Saturday, September 10, 2016

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia University says its current freshman class is its largest and most diverse on record.

The state’s flagship public university says the incoming class of about 5,200 students at the main campus in Morgantown also has the school’s highest ever average grade point of about 3.7.

Minorities make up 27 percent of the freshman class and 19 percent of all first-year students qualified for the Honors College.

Provost Joyce McConnell told the school’s Board of Governors on Friday that this year’s freshman class has grown by 8 percent, or about 380 students. Applications were also up by 31 percent.

McConnell cited the school’s recent high-profile research in helping attract new applicants. They include the laboratory that that discovered the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal and the professor who helped detect gravitational waves for the first time.

Enrollment was also up at Potomac State College and WVU Tech, including at the new Beckley campus.

“We had hoped to enroll 150 students on the WVU Beckley campus this fall,” McConnell said. “Instead, we have nearly 200.”

McConnell said overall student body of about 28,700 remains about even with last year.

“We’ve stopped the decline,” she said. “We’re holding steady.”

Official enrollment figures won’t be released by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission until early next month.

President Gordon Gee in his report to the board highlighted the accomplishments of three current students at this summer’s Olympic Games: Ginny Thrasher won a gold medal in shooting, and Kadiesha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence who were on Canada’s bronze medal-winning women’s soccer team. Alumnus Nicco Campriani also won two gold medals in shooting.

“West Virginia University won more medals than 121 countries,” Gee said.

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