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Gone To Texas: Texas-sized welcome for new students, including largest freshman class

Tower with Gone To Texas logo.
Tower lights configured with the Gone To Texas logo.
The university's largest freshman class will be among new students treated to a festive “Gone To Texas 2002” party on the South Mall of the Main Building at The University of Texas at Austin, Tuesday (Aug. 27), welcoming incoming students to campus the night before fall classes begin.

Festivities begin with a mariachi band entertaining students as they are being seated at 7:30 p.m., and by cheerleaders performing before the Tower chimes welcome the crowd at 8 p.m.

A dragon dance, a choir, dance groups and music by Brave Combo will be featured during a program that will include remarks by President Larry R. Faulkner, Austin Mayor Gus Garcia, student leaders, university administrators and representatives of the Texas Exes.

“Gone To Texas is always a great party and a terrific way to kick off the fall semester," Faulkner said. "It’s an opportunity to meet new people, learn campus traditions and catch the UT spirit. I hope to see every freshman and new student on the Main Mall for the celebration,” Faulkner said.

Steve Parks, director of production for university events, said the party welcomes all new students in an engaging and contemporary fashion.

A group of students with giant, orange Hook 'em hands.
A group of students with the Hook 'em spirit.
“These students will hear from university and local dignitaries as well as receive words of wisdom from their peers,” Parks said. “They will learn many of the university’s traditions and they will appreciate its diversity. When these students leave this party, they will be dazzled by the institution they have joined and feel challenged to take full advantage of its opportunities.”

The University Co-op provides 4,000 T-shirts each year for the Gone To Texas festivities. The party marks the beginning of the academic year, with a total student body expected to at least equal the 50,616 enrollment recorded for the fall 2001 semester.

Flags at Gone To Texas.
Flags waving high during the Gone To Texas event.
Dr. Bruce Walker, associate vice president for student affairs and director of admissions, said this likely will be the largest freshman class in the history of the university. He estimates the combined summer and fall enrollment of freshmen for 2002 will be about 8,000 students, which includes 1,091 freshmen this summer and an estimated 7,000 this fall. The combined summer/fall enrollment of freshmen in 2001 was 7,365 students, including 1,016 enrolled in the summer and 6,349 in the fall semester.

Walker said the previous record enrollment of freshmen for the summer/fall period was in 1988, when 7,907 freshmen were enrolled.

State of Texas House Bill 588, commonly known as the Top 10 Percent Law, guarantees that Texas high school graduates who were in the top 10 percent of their senior class be admitted to any state institution of higher learning. Walker said about 50 percent of the freshman class this fall will be students who scored in the top 10 percent of their class. This is the largest class of top 10 percent students ever at the university, and Walker said he believes it will be an exceptionally high-scoring class.

“When you have a higher number of top 10 percent students, these students, as a group, score higher than others,” Walker said. The mean Standard Aptitude Test (SAT) score for the freshman class this summer/fall semester is 1228.77, compared with a score of 1219.03 for the 2001 summer/fall semester.

“It’s evident this is a place students want to be and there are many reasons for that,” Walker said. “Quality for the price is outstanding and people see that value.”

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  Updated 2014 October 13
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