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Central Washington University

CWU Trustees Welcome Message

September 22, 2017

To: The CWU Community
From: Keith Thompson, Chair
CWU Board of Trustees

Cc: Trustees Ron Erickson, Glenn Johnson, Chris Liu, Erin Black, Robert Nellums, Ciara White
Re: Trustees’ priorities for the 2017-2018 academic year

On behalf of the trustees of Central Washington University, I would like to welcome you to a new school year!

When the trustees met in July for our annual planning retreat, we discussed many critical aspects of higher education at Central. We want to be sure to share our views with you, and the beginning of a new school year is the best time to do so.

First, the trustees are extremely proud of this university. Central serves students with nationally recognized staff and faculty and a beautiful campus. It is not surprising, therefore, that we are attracting record numbers of students. What a wonderful turn-around this has been from just a few years ago when CWU worked to overcome the challenges of the Great Recession. Central responded to that challenge with a number of initiatives that just now are coming to fruition. These have been and will continue to be priorities in this coming academic year.

• Prioritizing student access and success.

In 2009, President Gaudino united our student life and academic departments in to a single division. The blending of these functions created a more vibrant student experience, which is a defining characteristic of the CWU experience. The trustees supported a significant investment in marketing and recruitment, and the president created a new Division of Enrollment Management. The result has been a fresh presentation of the university’s identity and a more coherent and powerful presentation of CWU to the world. Today, we are offering an educational experience that is attracting students and engaging them in their own success.

• Decentralized management and budgeting.

Deep cuts in state support and the increasing unreliability of public funding forced the Board of Trustees to set aside our century-old system of top-down management and budgeting four years ago. More than a year ago, with the full support of the Board, President Gaudino directed Provost Frank and CFO/Vice President Klucking to implement responsibility-center management (RCM), a new approach to management that, when fully realized, will focus decision-making on the leadership in colleges and departments. Their decision-making is now informed by a much more precise way of understanding income and expenses, through activity-based budgeting (ABB).

We know that this transition is difficult. It up-ends years of habit and places further demands upon university. We are very supportive of the work of Provost Frank and Vice President Klucking. Trustees were pleased to learn of the incredible progress CWU has made over the past 12 months to implement this new management program. We have asked the Provost and CFO to continue their leadership and development of this management approach. In July, we underscored our commitment to this initiative with a resolution that reads as follows:

Motion 17-32: The Board of Trustees of Central Washington University declares continued development of RCM and ABB systems to be among the university’s highest priorities, directs continued progress on the update to general education curriculum and articulation of the baccalaureate experience, and requests reports on these initiatives at each meeting of the board in order to support and promote their successful and timely completion.

• A stronger focus on performance and accountability.

Along with decentralized management, the Trustees asked President Gaudino to link decision making to outcomes and to insist on greater accountability in all areas of the university. This is consistent with the principles of RCM, which has dramatically improved Central’s ability to understand the impact and costs of our work. CWU is developing a data warehouse and we have turned paper systems into simpler digital formats. As a consequence, we have significantly improved the accuracy and transparency of information across the university.

• Preparing for new students.

The next several incoming classes of students will be an ever-more diverse group. We will need to adjust our academic, housing, communication and other practices and assumptions to ensure student success. In order to provide these coming students with an outstanding educational experience, the trustees endorsed the following:

• The construction of a new residence facility, with pro forma plans to be presented to the trustees on November 2.
• The upgrade of recreational and athletic facilities, with pro forma plans to be presented to trustees on November 2.
• The intentional development of a university culture that welcomes and embraces multicultural perspectives and values. The president was the first among his peers to create the position of Vice President of Inclusivity and Diversity and appointed Dr. Delores Cleary to this position. The purpose of this role is to ensure that the values of inclusion and diversity are expressed with authority across university policies and practices. Further, the president has directed staff to create a multi-cultural center to support a campus climate that recognizes the value that multicultural diversity brings to the total educational experience. A third initiative is the president’s direction to staff to research the requirements for federal recognition as a Hispanic Serving Institution.

All of these initiatives are ambitious and exciting. We are transforming our 125-year-old institution to be responsive and successful in our contemporary world. Our success depends upon the energy and inspiration of all of you. Experience has demonstrated that you have the commitment and passion to do this important work. Thank you for your support of our students and this wonderful university.

Monday, September 25, 2017

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