This year’s incoming first-year class at UCSB is expected to be the largest in the university’s 62-year history. Given that high GPAs and SAT scores are no longer sure tickets to admission, the 4,100 new students accepted are likely to be more than just smart cookies. Both phenomena – greater numbers of students and a more selective admissions process – mirror statewide trends.

UCSB and Westmont are top schools, according to the newly released U.S. News & World Report rankings. UCSB placed 47th among public institutions, while Westmont was 104th among liberal arts colleges (which are generally private). UCSB also snagged last place on the Princeton Review’s list of top 10 party schools. Last year, it came in fourth.

Slightly less than an acre of land at UCSB’s Lagoon Island will undergo a controlled burn this weekend as part of large-scale environmental restoration efforts in the area spearheaded by the school’s Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration. The blaze – which will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning and will be supervised by county firefighters – will be followed by the planting of native flora in the area.

Largely because of his role in confirming the Big Bang theory, UCSB physics professor Philip Lubin was part of a team awarded the $250,000 Gruber Cosmology Prize in Prague last week. A Gaucho professor since 1987, Lubin was one of 19 people who helped develop the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), a satellite designed to identify and study 13-billion-year-old radiation left over from the Big Bang.

UCSB and the Goleta Water District (GWD) resolved a dispute over water rates. In October, the university accused the GWD of charging it artificially high rates; the parties reached a settlement last Friday. Both sides reported satisfaction with the deal, which calls for the GWD to recompense UCSB for last year’s overcharges.

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