It is great to have our students back on campus - all 42,100 of them!
The UA has an amazing freshman class, many of whom are ready to jump into 100% Engagement experiences. And the University is ready to help them find the right fit. Over the summer, the Office of Student Engagement launched its website, an important new resource that is the campus community's online hub for information and opportunities related to experiential learning and 100% Engagement.
The University is also working hard to keep a UA education affordable and accessible. This year's incoming students were automatically enrolled in our Guaranteed Tuition Plan, which means their tuition rate will be frozen for eight continuous semesters. Keeping tuition affordable remains a major priority. In the coming months UA leadership will work with the Arizona Board of Regents and elected leaders to develop a new model for state appropriations that maximizes the use of our scarce resources for our core educational mission. Our goal is to provide long-term stability and affordability in the UA's budget while also ensuring that the quality of students' educational experience remains among the best in the world.
That student experience benefits greatly from world-class research and the partnerships that help spread its impact. Recently, I welcomed Governor Doug Ducey to campus to announce one such partnership with Uber.
Governor Ducey, Uber's Brian McClendon, and I signed an agreement that will make the UA the home for the company's state-of-the-art mapping test vehicles. This is a wonderful development for the UA and for Arizona, especially given the importance of innovation and technology for the future of our state's economy. With the UA's expertise in advanced optics, imaging technologies, and many other cutting-edge research areas, the UA is primed to help make that future come to life.
Looking ahead, I also would like to let you know about two milestones we will celebrate next week. On Tuesday, the School of Anthropology will hold a commemoration ceremony in recognition of its centennial. The school held its first classes on Sept. 15, 1915. On Friday, I will have the honor of taking part in a ceremony to dedicate the newly renamed Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, which honors Mr. Caris's generous support of the UA's major role in building the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The GMT will give UA astronomers and others an unprecedented view of the universe. Both events serve as wonderful reminders of the UA's long tradition of excellence and the potential it holds for the future.
Finally, I would like to bring to your attention an article that was published today by the Phoenix Business Journal about our medical school in Phoenix. In the article, Dr. Joe G.N. "Skip" Garcia, UA senior vice president for health sciences, provides insight about the work being done to gain full accreditation for the UA College of Medicine - Phoenix.
It's shaping up to be a record-breaking year for the UA, which is reaching new levels in the number of freshman applications, the size of the freshman class and total enrollment. Preliminary numbers show that about 42,100 students are taking classes this fall, including more than 8,100 freshmen and 2,100 transfer students. The Honors College is welcoming about 1,500 freshmen and transfer students, with about 18 percent being first-generation college students.
Research being done at the UA aims to help farmers monitor the quality of the water they use to irrigate their crops, which could lead to fewer food recalls and fewer cases of foodborne illnesses. The work is being funded with almost $400,000 in grants awarded to researchers in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
A new partnership between the UA Department of Geosciences and Pima Community College will recruit, mentor and provide paid internships for transfer students from two-year colleges in Arizona. The program — called GeoPathways — is designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in geosciences and provide support for transfer students, who tend to lag behind in academic performance and time to graduation.