Unity College kicks off the school year Saturday as it welcomes what the school is calling one of its “largest, most academically accomplished freshman classes ever.”

Convocation ceremonies are scheduled for 1 p.m. in Tozier Gymnasium at the school.

The freshman class of 247, the largest in the school’s 50-year history enters “as the campus continues growing and upgrading, as national rankings list Unity high for value and public service, as admissions applications hit an all-time high, and as record donations come in from alumni and philanthropists,” a Friday press release from the college said.

The school, which focuses on the environment and offers 16 majors in environmental fields, has a total enrollment of 657 students, the school’s largest enrollment in its history.

Outgoing President Stephen Mulkey, whose term ends at the end of the year, said, “The unfolding environmental crisis and the economic crisis in higher education have created a mandate and opportunity for Unity College. As we meet our ethical obligation to prepare students to face these challenges, our expanding enrollment shows that Unity College is positioned to meet a growing mandate for our special brand of higher education.”

Melik Peter Khoury, president-elect at the college, said that “with three straight years of enrollment growth, dozens of new campus infrastructure improvements, and heightened interest in our unique curriculum from prospective students and the academic community, there’s never been a brighter point in our history.” Khoury, executive vice president, takes over as president in January.

The school has added 44,000 square feet of buildings since 2013, including the McKay Farm and Research Station in Thorndike and two residence halls on its 225-acre campus.

Members of the freshman class come from 28 states and one foreign country (Italy), with the most represented states Maine (74), Massachusetts (52) and Connecticut (32).

Eight percent of the class self-identifies as a minority, the press relese said, and the average high school GPA is 3.33 — up from 3.21 in the prior freshman class and average SAT composite is 1520 — up from 1503 in the prior freshman class. The gender ratio is 53 percent female and 47 percent male.

This year’s freshman class is the largest entering class ever and, when added to upperclassmen, creates the largest enrollment in the history of the college: 657 students. It is the first time in its history Unity College will enroll more than 650 students. The school started in 1965 with 30 students.

Applications for admission to Unity College have increased 138 percent since 2012. There were 477 applications in 2012, 536 in 2013, 855 in 2014, and 1,133 in 2015, according to the release.

The school has recently earned four national endorsements: one for innovative learning opportunities; another as one of the nation’s 32 “greenest” campuses; one as a Top 20 baccalaureate program in the US; and a fourth naming it one of America’s Top 100 Cool Schools for outstanding environmental commitment.

Over the summer, Unity College collected an anonymous $200,000 donation, dedicated a residence hall built in 2014 and completed a second new residence hall next door.

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