By Chris Dacanay
Mark Hanrahan stood on stage in the Finnegan Fieldhouse on Aug. 25 at 8 p.m. He was facing a crowd composed of students new and old, parents and university faculty.
After having been introduced as the dean of admissions, Hanrahan addressed the crowd and began his speech for the Franciscan University orientation grand opening.
Hanrahan proceeded to share some fun facts about Franciscan’s incoming class, a class worthy of note considering its title as the largest class in the 75-year history of the university.
“As of today (Aug. 25) we have 752 active deposits,” Hanrahan said, followed by uproarious applause. “That’s 20 more than fall of 2020 when we gave free tuition out.”
A big chunk of those deposits are composed of freshmen, who make up the largest class in the history of the university, according to Hanrahan. There are 630 first-time and full-time freshmen.
That number of freshmen beats out Franciscan’s previous record of 564 freshmen in the fall semester of 2018.
In total, Hanrahan said after the orientation speech, the university received 2,604 applications.
The university received 834 total deposits, and though some of those depositors were “no-shows,” Hanrahan said, the number of students who arrived still beats out the number who attended during the free tuition Step in Faith year.
During his speech, Hanrahan asked the alumni parents in the crowd to stand. Afterward, he said that a record 127 alumni legacy students were enrolled for the semester. This meant that the students’ mother, father or both parents had attended Franciscan in the past.
Also asked to stand were over 300 of the new students who had attended one of the university’s on-campus or off-site youth conferences during their high school careers.
Next, Hanrahan addressed the incoming class’ states of origin.
“We proudly boast that we have students from all 50 states,” Hanrahan said, “and tonight we are bringing you students from 41 out of the 50 states.
“The top ten states represented this year are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, Michigan, New York, Maryland, Texas, Colorado and a three-way tie for 10th place is Florida, New Jersey and Wisconsin.”
Hanrahan called the incoming class “academically gifted,” and said that the average high school GPA for the class is 3.86, the second highest in the university’s history.
The university also has a large number of incoming transfer students — over 100.
“Welcome to your future alma mater,” Hanrahan said to the transfer students in the crowd.
“Hopefully you have found the right school, and this (will be) the stage you walk across, as (the Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR) said, in a few semesters — or maybe a few years — and receive your degree and diploma.”
New transfers hail from Ave Maria University, Catholic University of America, Duquesne University, and about 90 other schools.
“The list of schools sounds like a who’s who of the Cardinal Newman Guide schools and the College Football Playoffs,” Hanrahan said.
Hanrahan said that the new students are enrolled in over 40 different academic majors. The top picks are business, nursing, theology, education, biology, engineering, psychology, criminal justice and computer science, with communication arts and philosophy being tied for 10th place.
“The last fun fact that I have tonight,” Hanrahan said, “(is that) typically the top female and male (names) of the incoming class is named after the holy family — Mary and Joseph.
“But this year, we have a surprise winner. The most common female name for the incoming class is Elizabeth, named after the cousin of the blessed virgin Mary. The top male name is still Joseph.”
The grand opening ended with Hanrahan formally handing the incoming class over from the admissions department to Dan Dentino, vice president of student life.
“We (in admissions) are so, so glad that you (new students) are finally here. … As dean of admissions, it is my sincere and distinct honor and privilege to present to you the incoming class of fall 2022.”