Northeastern’s 115th entering class is the most aca­d­e­m­i­cally accom­plished in the university’s his­tory, according to a briefing before the Fac­ulty Senate on Wednesday after­noon in the Raytheon Amphitheatre.

The average SAT score for entering freshmen was an all-​​time-​​high 1360, according to a pre­sen­ta­tion by Philomena Man­tella, Northeastern’s senior vice pres­i­dent for enroll­ment man­age­ment and stu­dent affairs, and Jane Brown, vice pres­i­dent for enroll­ment management.

Sixty-​​three per­cent of freshmen stu­dents were in the top 10 per­cent of their high school class, com­pared to only 38 per­cent in 2006. More than three dozen of those stu­dents were accepted into Northeastern’s inau­gural Uni­ver­sity Scholars Pro­gram, which gives top achievers a full tuition scholarship.

But Man­tella said North­eastern looks far beyond SAT scores and high school grades in selecting its incoming class, paying par­tic­ular atten­tion to prospec­tive stu­dents’ entre­pre­neurial spirit, global inter­ests and high school recommendations.

North­eastern also received the most appli­ca­tions in the university’s his­tory for the 2012–13 aca­d­emic year. Man­tella said North­eastern received 44,208 appli­ca­tions for 2,800 spots in the freshmen class, a stag­gering jump from the 27,168 it received six years ago.

Because of the growth in our appli­cant pool, we have become increas­ingly selec­tive,” accepting just 32 per­cent of appli­cants this year, Man­tella said. “That’s prob­ably obvious by our stu­dent profile.”

Brown said Northeastern’s reten­tion rate is steadily increasing, a wel­come trend that she attrib­uted to a university-​​wide effort that began about two years ago. Last year, 95.5 per­cent of freshmen moved on to their second year at North­eastern, a uni­ver­sity record and a sta­tistic that places North­eastern within the top 50 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties nationwide.

Brown also noted that EMSA would focus its atten­tion on sev­eral key ini­tia­tives over the next year. Con­tin­uing to improve the expe­ri­ence of stu­dents vis­iting campus is a top pri­ority, one that she described as “the pri­mary driver in what influ­ences a student’s deci­sion to enroll here.”

Brown said EMSA would also enhance Northeastern’s mes­saging, with a focus on the inter­sec­tion between class­room and expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion; develop the Plus One pilot pro­gram, an ini­tia­tive that would let freshmen plan for a year of grad­uate study, with finan­cial aid guar­an­teed at the same rate; and increase mar­keting and recruit­ment for Northeastern’s pro­fes­sional master’s programs.

After the pre­sen­ta­tion on recruit­ment and reten­tion, the Fac­ulty Senate unan­i­mously passed a Sense of the Senate res­o­lu­tion endorsing the Fac­ulty Giving Ini­tia­tive. The ini­tia­tive is part of a major uni­ver­sity cam­paign to gen­erate more than $1 bil­lion over the next five years.

Richard Day­nard, Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Law and Senate Agenda Com­mittee chairman, said fac­ulty gifts would con­tinue to help North­eastern become “the best it could pos­sibly be.”