November 20, 2012
ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Central Washington University has begun the search for an office in the Puget Sound area, close to corporate and government leaders, and alumni and students, most of whom call western Washington home. More than 65 percent of CWU alumni live and work in western Washington; about 70 percent of CWU students hail from counties west of the Cascades.
CWU's presence in western Washington has been growing for more than 30 years. CWU now provides degree programs at community colleges in Everett, Edmonds, Kent, Des Moines, and Steilacoom. CWU President James L. Gaudino said that, in spite of this long-time commitment to the most populous part of the state, CWU has no centrally located office in the Puget Sound area for alumni outreach, business communications, government relations, or student recruitment.
"A Puget Sound presence puts CWU within easy reach of alumni, parents, students and working adults seeking information about CWU campuses, financial aid, and other essential information," said Gaudino, noting that nearly a third of CWU students are from King County. "A Puget Sound office is long overdue."
"When we're in the neighborhood, it'll be easier to have face-to-face conversations with old friends and to make new ones.” He also stated that an office would better position the university to connect with organizations and alumni who can help CWU graduates find internships and jobs.
The dramatic disinvestment by the state has added new urgency to the need to strengthen CWU's physical presence and marketing position in western Washington. The loss of half of the state funding in just three years has refocused the fiscal priorities of the university, according to Gaudino, who said CWU now must rely heavily on private funding, including donations by friends and alumni, tuition, and corporate support—each of which exists in greater abundance in the Puget Sound area.
All of Washington's Fortune 500 companies—Costco Wholesale, Microsoft, Amazon.com, Paccar, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Weyerhaeuser, and Expeditors International of Washington—are located in the Puget Sound region. The region's largest and most philanthropic corporations and many of the state's most powerful policymakers also reside in the area. More than 65 percent of the state's population live in the region.
"We've set some very ambitious goals for corporate and alumni relations and overall enrollment," said Gaudino, adding that Washington State University already has a Seattle office. "If we are serious about providing the best possible service to our students, alumni, and corporate partner, then we must be accessible where these key stakeholders live and work."
The university hopes to find and open an office in the Puget Sound area by 2013. Funding for the location will be provided by the entities that use the space.
Media Contact: Linda Schactler, director, CWU Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org