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Office of the President
Barge Hall 314
Mail stop 7501
(509) 963-2111
CWU.President@cwu.edu

 

 

 

Central Washington University Academic and Student Success Initiative 2022-2028

CWU is here for one purpose: to deliver transformational learning experiences that have the power to enrich the lives of students, their families, and their communities. Our dedicated team of professionals shows up every day with the goal of helping people from all backgrounds find their place in the world. Whether it’s inside or outside the classroom, CWU faculty and staff are committed to going the extra mile for our students.

The typical classroom experience at Central includes rigorous and relevant curricula and teaching, combined with a personal touch that is unmatched at most higher education institutions. This well-established and highly effective educational model continues in the field with an abundance of practical learning experiences designed to prepare students for professional opportunities, civic engagement, and lives filled with deep purpose and meaning.

But our instructors and support staff don’t stop there. They perform their life-changing work in an environment that expands access to higher education and serves aspiring professionals from all walks of life. Firstgeneration students, adult learners, and traditional students often find they are on equal footing at CWU because our campus celebrates individuality and a diversity of ideas and worldviews. Students, employees, and visitors tend to feel very welcome at Central because we are committed to a culture of inclusion— one where everyone feels valued and can be true to themselves without fear of being singled out.

At the same time, as the backgrounds and life experiences of our students continue to diversify, we know we must adapt our teaching and student support strategies to accommodate a wider range of learning styles and needs. With 42% of our student body identifying as people of color, we are well aware that we must build a stronger culture of belonging and improve our efforts to advance equity in our systems and structures if we are to achieve these results. Forty-three percent of our students are the first in their families to go to college, and the number of first-generation students at our University Centers and instructional sites is approaching 50%.

Most of these students need additional guidance about where to begin when they set foot on campus for the first time, and our faculty and staff believe it is our duty to guide and mentor them so they can enjoy the same advantages as their more traditional counterparts. By keeping our unique demographics top of mind, Central believes we can make good on our commitment to student success and ensure that all learners have access to the engaged- and applied-learning experiences that are essential for academic excellence and professional preparation.

We are embarking on this work at a pivotal time for Washington state, and we have been aligning our priorities with those set forth by state leaders. They include:

  • raising employee salaries annually so CWU can keep up with cost-of-living increases and remain competitive in the marketplace;
  • expanding the availability of dual-language STEM instruction;
  • addressing learning loss brought on by the pandemic; and
  • improving financial literacy to help more students take advantage of state and federal financial assistance programs.

One significant barrier we must confront, first and foremost, is that COVID-19 has disrupted the learning experience of thousands of current and prospective students. From elementary school through high school and into college, Washingtonians have been faced with challenges greater than any since World War II, the Great Depression, or the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918. In many respects, schools proved resilient and learned a great deal about the use of technology to advance learning objectives from 2020-2022.

Yet many students, especially the most vulnerable, lacked the capacity or resources to maintain learning at their grade level. Higher education institutions, including CWU, must find new ways of receiving and supporting these students, while also being able to offer expertise and resources to our communities as we seek to mitigate the learning loss that has occurred. We expect these efforts will contribute to learning recovery over time, though we acknowledge that a great deal of work lies ahead.

We have already accepted the challenge to align our practices with the state’s economic, social, and cultural priorities, and we recognize that, in many ways, our work is just beginning. As part of our ongoing efforts to meet a variety of short- and long-term needs, CWU will continue to offer a wide array of programs designed to help Washington build a more tech-savvy workforce, add to an already strong pipeline of K-12 teachers, and introduce more equity-focused work that will benefit the many, not the few.

It won’t be easy, but with these challenges at the forefront, we truly believe CWU can make an even greater difference in the lives of more people in the years to come. Our strategy to address these crucial statewide goals is detailed in this new six-year agenda we have dubbed The Central Experience. We expect it will increase our capacity to address student needs while supporting the overarching goals of building enrollment, improving retention, and graduating an even greater number of qualified professionals. The details of our plan are outlined in the following eight steps.