CWU News

$60.5 Million CWU Health Education Project Promotes Academics, Athletics

Health Education Project lobby

An architectural rendering of the lobby of the new Health Education facility on the north end of the CWU campus.

Central Washington University launched a $60.5 million Health Education project this winter to renovate and expand Nicholson Pavilion and an adjacent instructional building. The facilities on the north end of campus currently serve a variety of health education programs, including the state’s largest teacher preparation program in health. 

The multi-phase Health Education Project, funded by the Washington State Legislature and private donors, features long-awaited renovations of the 63-year-old Nicholson Pavilion and aging Purser Hall, including classroom upgrades, additional meeting space, an expanded fieldhouse, two new weight-training areas, and the construction of a lobby/vestibule area. 

The Health Education project has been on the university’s wish list since 2010, when CWU requested pre-design funding from the state. The entire renovation is slated for completion by the fall of 2023, but some of the office and classroom spaces completed during phase one could be in use later this year.

The overarching goal of the project is to provide faculty and students in the Sport and Movement Studies department with the resources they need for 21st century instruction and development. In addition to having larger, modernized office and classroom spaces, the department will be able to take advantage of a dedicated weight room that will be used only for academic disciplines. 

Sport and Movement Studies currently shares the Nicholson weight room with Athletics, and the new spaces will allow both departments to work more independently.

CWU Health Education Project front entrance“First and foremost, this project will address our aging facilities and provide us with the modern technology our department and Athletics need to grow,” said Department of Sport and Movement Studies co-chair Brian McGladrey. “One of the benefits of this project is we will be left with our own spaces. But we will continue to work together to manage the facilities so we can meet both of our needs.”

The Dance and Physical Education Teaching programs have been building momentum year after year, while the Northwest Center for Sport continues to grow since it was introduced in 2017. Physical activity courses such as weight training, yoga, Pilates, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and ultimate frisbee also continue to be popular among students, with more than 1,000 enrollments during a typical quarter (pre-pandemic).

The faculty believes the revamped north campus will quickly enhance CWU’s reputation as a top higher-education destination on the West Coast. The new facilities are also expected to provide added incentive for students, athletes, and faculty to consider coming to Central. 

“One of the big things for us is that this facility, when it’s done, will allow us to have some separation so our programs can continue to grow,” Department of Sport and Movement Studies co-chair Rory Weishaar said. “The gym lab will help us academically, and each of these new spaces should also help with retention and program growth.” 

Architectural drawing of new weight room on CWU campusAcademic programs such as Physical Activity, Physical Education and School Health (PESH), Sport Management, and Dance are the primary beneficiaries of the project, but CWU Athletics also stands to benefit from the new exercise facilities, offices, and classroom spaces. 

Another primary goal of the Health Education project is to transform Nicholson Pavilion — built in 1959 — into a state-of-the-art venue that can host large gatherings such as CWU and Ellensburg High School commencement ceremonies, plus statewide youth sports tournaments and community events. 

“As a shared facility between Athletics and the Department of Sport and Movement Studies, this project will have a significant impact on the academic experience of our students and faculty, as well as the student-athlete experience in every-day practice, training, and competition,” CWU Athletic Director Dennis Francois said, adding that the pavilion’s distinctive cable-suspended roof — the only one of its kind in the U.S. — will remain.

“The renovations of the outward-facing spaces will greatly enhance the overall experience for fans, and it will further position CWU as a highly desirable location for local, state, and regional athletic events at the high school and collegiate levels,” he added. 

Additional donor support will be required to fund state-of-the-art equipment and program needs. For more information about giving opportunities to support this project, email the foundation.

“We are very grateful to the donors who have so far supported the project,” said Paul Elstone, vice president of University Advancement. “The importance of donor participation in a momentous project like this is immeasurable, and it is wonderful to see the Wildcat community continuing to support the future generations of students who will use the facility.” 

Note: This article was updated at 10 a.m. February 8.

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1518.