New year, new expectations

The Observer

As the new semester is slowly picking speed, we at The Observer are tempted to see what this year has in store for the Case Western Reserve University community.

The biggest issue of the upcoming year will be CWRU’s quest for growth. The undergraduate applications for the class of 2017 shot up to 118,000 last year—a 150 percent increase from 2008. This year, it is probably safe to suggest that those numbers will at least reach the same numbers, if not surpass them by an even larger margin.

In December, CWRU reported that it had received applications from 8,871 prospective students for early action admission. This, according to the university, is a 50 percent increase from 2012. In an article on the university home page, Director of Undergraduate Admissions Bob McCullough says that the increase in applications last year most likely contributed to the growing number of early action applications.

The flood of applications raise the question of whether CWRU is attempting to become a bigger school or whether the university is trying to lower its acceptance rates in an attempt to market exclusivity. As of now, it is not clear what CWRU’s strategy is, but the answer may be found in the profile of the class of 2018. Once the size and acceptance rate of this year’s entering class come to light, we are a step closer to seeing the university’s long-term recruitment goals.

The early action applications also demonstrated that student diversity just kept on growing. Last fall, there was more variation in the geographic regions and demographics represented. It seems that the reputation of CWRU is reaching a very large number of high school students from various backgrounds. This trend already shows up in the increased diversity of the past few freshman classes and there is no reason to believe that the class of 2018 will be the exception. If the trend holds, they will be more diverse than its predecessors—hopefully in underrepresented minorities, a group that constituted only 13 percent of Fall 2013 enrollees.

Over the past few years, CWRU and University Circle have undertaken several construction projects around campus. There is no doubt that this trend of fast development will continue further this year, which is exciting news. While seeing new facilities like the Tinkham Veale University Center and the Cleveland Institute of Art student apartments materialize creates a net positive, there is also a flipside to the construction. On top of cool new buildings around campus, we are also anticipating a significant amount of frustration triggered by detours, closed sidewalks and non-existent parking spots.

At this rate, it would also not be entirely unexpected if CWRU announced new such projects in 2014. The university’s development momentum won’t be halted any time soon.

But as we march toward future buildings, let’s not forget our campus’ rich history. For example, it still isn’t clear how Thwing Center will be repurposed. Though the issue remains unresolved, we expect some action necessitated by the rapid progress on the Tinkham Veale University Center.

We are also expecting solidified plans to emerge concerning the new apartment-style housing planned for the north side of campus. So far, it has been reported that the administration is expecting a finishing date of fall 2015, in time to accommodate the current first and second-year classes. As of last fall, no date for groundbreaking had been set.

Some minor changes in university policies are also possible in the year stretching ahead. The tobacco-free policy, which would ban all tobacco products, on CWRU campus has been looked into since last year. Beyond the endless waiting for the actual policy, the current policy doesn’t address e-cigarettes, a national trend creeping onto campus. Perhaps this year the university will make the final decision as to whether it will undergo the change and how it will be enforced – or if it will be enforced at all.

We are looking forward to find out what the new year will bring to the CWRU community. Be sure to follow The Observer to keep up with the goings-on around campus and don’t forget to share your thoughts with us at and @cwruobserver.