Providing a world-class undergraduate education is the core of what we do at CAS. Last fall, we welcomed our most talented class of undergraduate students ever—an assessment based not only on their SAT scores and high school class rankings but also on the broad range of interests, skills, and experiences they brought with them to campus. Among the Class of 2018, we saw another big jump in interest in computer science, as well as continued strong interest in biology and the life sciences majors. Meanwhile, interest in the humanities and social sciences held steady.

In order to help these students adjust socially, personally, and academically to the challenges of BU, we expanded enrollment in our First-Year Experience program to over 800 students—nearly half the incoming class. We also made curricular innovations to support our undergraduates’ academic and career ambitions, establishing new mentored research travel grants for students pursuing honors in their majors and a new course to help liberal arts students build highly marketable skills through internships in select BU offices. And we continue to find better ways to support the large number of English language learners attending CAS; our Writing Program in particular serves as a gateway to success for these students. Last year, the program hired three new ESL instructors and expanded its innovative courses pairing English learners with native speakers for enhanced language learning and cross-cultural connections.

We continue to see positive results from these efforts to connect our talented students with the resources they need to excel. In a challenging job market for young college graduates, 90% of the CAS Class of 2014 was “settled” seven months after graduation—59% in full-time jobs, 18% in graduate or professional school, and 13% in other activities ranging from military service to part-time employment (See Appendix, Post-Graduation Destination Profile Class of 2014. And when the Office of the Provost held a special ceremony last October honoring some of BU’s top students for their recent scholarships and awards, 26 of the 34 students honored were from Arts & Sciences—reaffirming the value of a liberal arts and sciences education.

Attracting Great Students

Every year, it is inspiring to witness the diversity and talent of our incoming freshman class. The fall of 2014 was no different. Our 1,795 students came from 47 states and 51 countries. Nearly two-thirds were female. Just over 38% were Caucasian Americans, while just over 30% were Americans of other ethnicities, and almost 29% were international students. More students came from China (including Hong Kong—347 students, or 19% of the class) than Massachusetts (251 students, or 14% of the class).

Students listen as listen as Associate Professor of English Carrie J. Preston delivers the Faculty Salutation during the Class of 2018 Matriculation Ceremony. Photo by Cydney Scott

Recruitment is a team effort; current CAS students and our alumni played special roles, and our faculty members joined the Admissions staff in fanning out across the globe to find and attract great students.

The effort paid off. Our Class of 2018 outdid the Class of 2017 on every aspect of the SAT—critical reading, math, and writing—for a composite average score of 1970. That is 20 points higher than the previous freshman class. We attracted more students from the very top of their high school class; 44% of the Class of 2018 came from the top 5% of their high school class, compared to 37% the year before.

The Class of 2018 continues the trend of growing interest in the life sciences and computer science. We also saw an increase in intent to major in sociology and psychology. The computational, natural, and social sciences continue to attract the most students, with economics, biology, international relations, and psychology as our most popular majors among incoming freshmen. Meanwhile, as with schools across the country, the humanities saw fewer new majors than the other divisions; however, our humanities majors and minors remain vibrant and essential parts of our liberal arts platform.

For the complete snapshot of this past year’s incoming class, see the Class of 2018 Profile and the chart on First-Year Student Enrollment.

Supporting Great Success

This year, we continued to build our system of support for students at every stage of the undergraduate journey. We continued expanding the CAS First-Year Experience, our name for an interrelated set of experiences, advising, and support systems aimed at students during this gateway year. A key part of the First-Year Experience program is FY 101, a seminar-style course where small groups address a range of topics: BU community; health, wellness, and safety; academic pathways and success; and identity. In 2014/15, FY 101 topped 800 first-year students for the first time (a 60% increase over the year before).

Once students are adjusted to social and academic life at BU, we want to make sure they are able to leverage their time here to the fullest. That is why we developed an internship-based course, Internships for Liberal Arts, which frames, facilitates, and guides students through an internship opportunity in a workplace setting within BU. We also developed SY 101 (Senior Year 101), a course to help CAS seniors develop a plan of action for pursuing a successful path beyond graduation. Students use self-assessment to focus their search, identify potential employers, build effective résumés and cover letters, strengthen networking and interviewing skills, and develop a plan of action.

To help our large population of English-language learners, the Writing Program continued an initiative to encourage faculty to experiment with new approaches to curriculum and pedagogy. A recent innovation is called “mediated integration,” which pairs two sections—one composed of native English speakers, the other of students for whom English is a second language. Most writing instruction occurs separately, but the two sections blend frequently for collaboration, discussions, workshops, and other activities, including field trips. This past year saw mediated integration classes that studied local and global foodways, immigration, and translation.

Enhancing the Curriculum

Each year, we engage in thoughtful planning at both the college and department/program level to make sure our evolving curriculum matches the needs of the broader economy and academia, the interests of our students, and the talents and specialties of our faculty. One major result of this process is curricular innovation that keeps pace with these changing forces and needs.

In 2014/15, we made revisions to a number of our undergraduate majors—archaeology, German, English, and Hispanic language & literature. We also phased out our East Asian studies major in favor of a new Asian Studies major, which encompasses South and Southeast Asia in addition to East Asia. These revised majors balance a common core of essential topics and skills with greater flexibility for students, working with their academic advisor, to design individual plans of study that match their interests and aspirations within and beyond the major field.

In fall 2014, BU launched its first fully intercollegiate undergraduate major, Cinema & Media Studies, a collaboration between CAS and the College of Communication (COM). The innovative new major is also off to a great start. More than 20 CAS and COM courses have been organized, running the gamut of genres, themes, auteurs, and national cinemas.

We also made progress in enabling CAS students to challenge themselves and gain experience beyond the classroom. One way for our increasingly talented and ambitious undergraduates to interact with faculty mentors and stretch intellectually is to pursue honors in their major or majors. This past year, we established an honors component to the CAS Core Curriculum. We also established Honors Research Travel Awards for students to conduct mentored research toward graduation with honors in their majors. The travel awards help students consult archival or library materials that cannot be found in the Boston area; conduct interviews; collect data; attend performances, exhibitions, or other cultural events; or work with scholars in the field.

Annual Report 2014/2015

  • From the Dean From the Dean
    From recruiting ever-better faculty and students to surging ahead in our capital campaign, academic year 2014/2015 was a year of great accomplishments.
  • A New Era Begins at CAS A New Era Begins at CAS
    On August 1, 2015, CAS welcomed its new dean, Ann Cudd. Dean Cudd brings her own unique energy and vision to CAS and GRS and is deeply committed to enhancing—and affirming—the value of a liberal arts education.
  • Improving Undergraduate Education Improving Undergraduate Education
    CAS once again attracted our most talented class of undergraduates ever. And we laid the groundwork to serve them even better, offering expanded academic opportunities and a comprehensive First-Year Experience program with over 800 first-year participants.
  • Strengthening Graduate Education Strengthening Graduate Education
    BU’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences continues to see a dramatic increase in applicant quality and enrollment due to our new five-year PhD funding model that has heightened the attractiveness of our doctoral programs. New program initiatives have also resulted in more applicants to our master’s programs.
  • Enhancing a World-Class Faculty Enhancing a World-Class Faculty
    The quality of a university depends on the quality of its faculty, and hiring the best and giving them a strong start is crucial. In 2014/15, CAS hired 26 new professors across the humanities and social, natural, and computational sciences.
  • Conducting Pathbreaking Research Conducting Pathbreaking Research
    Discoveries and innovations at CAS help make BU one of the top 40 research universities in the world. Many fields of study at CAS are also highly ranked, including social sciences, physics, molecular biology and genetics, and psychology.
  • Deepening Our Global Mission Deepening Our Global Mission
    CAS is a major contributor to the international character of Boston University. The 2014–15 academic year was particularly eventful in this respect, being the inaugural year for the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies.
  • Creating Our Future: The CAS Strategic Plan at Halftime Creating Our Future: The CAS Strategic Plan at Halftime
    In 2010, the College of Arts & Sciences crafted a bold 10-year plan to enhance all aspects of what we do: advancing undergraduate and graduate education, research, global partnerships, and the College’s relationships with its alumni. Over the past five years, we have made great strides toward these goals.
  • Nurturing Connections with Alumni and Friends Nurturing Connections with Alumni and Friends
    The College continues to develop new opportunities to engage and connect with CAS alumni and friends. In 2014–15, more than 5,000 CAS alumni registered for events hosted by the BU Alumni Association, accounting for 25% of all BU alumni event engagement.
  • Growing Our Capacity and Stewarding Our Resources Growing Our Capacity and Stewarding Our Resources
    BU is in the midst of our first-ever capital campaign. As of June 30th, 2015, CAS has received more than $93,595,000 in gifts from its alumni, parents and friends. Collectively these supporters have made more than 20,000 gifts to the CAS campaign.
  • Appendix Appendix