May. 19, 2022
Central Washington University Installs Wohlpart as Its 15th President
Jim Wohlpart was officially installed as Central Washington University’s 15th president on Thursday during a ceremony on the Ellensburg campus. Dignitaries, CWU employees and students, and community members honored the new president at three events. Wohlpart assumed office in June 2021, but installation ceremonies were postponed first to coincide with the fall return of students and faculty, and again due to public safety concerns.
The installation is the official ceremony in which the president is formally endowed with the powers and responsibilities of office. The ceremony provides the opportunity for the new leader to share his vision for the university. Thursday’s activities included an ice cream social for the entire university community, an investiture ceremony, a tree-planting at University House, and a reception for dignitaries and friends of the university. The investiture was held earlier in the day at McIntyre Hall.
After opening remarks from Faculty Senate Chair Greg Lyman, Provost Michelle DenBeste, and Board of Trustees Chair Robert Nellams, Wohlpart delivered an address that explained why he chose to pursue a career in higher education, and how his passion for teaching and learning eventually led him to CWU.
“Higher education is about nurturing the growth of human beings—of offering opportunities that allow our graduates to become more fully themselves, realize their deepest, most profound potential, and flourish as whole and integrated human beings in healthy and whole communities,” Wohlpart said. “I strongly believe that the crossroads our nation faces runs squarely through higher education.”
The president spoke at length about his desire to establish a new vision, mission, and strategic plan for Central—a process that began in earnest last fall with the help of a steering committee of employees, alumni, and students.
Wohlpart believes Central has a responsibility to prepare young people to become leaders, not simply provide them with the skills needed to enter specific careers. The overarching goal for CWU, he argues, should be to develop thoughtful, engaged, well-rounded citizens who possess a breadth of skills that have the potential to make a lasting difference in the world.
“We must remember that professional preparation and civic agency are not the heart of what we do,” the president said. “At our core, we are about transforming students’ lives, their families’ lives, and their communities.”
The importance of building strong, vibrant communities—and providing equal support to students from a variety of backgrounds—is central to Wohlpart’s philosophy. His priorities are evident in his work with the Vision, Mission, and Strategic Plan Task Force, and he often returns to those themes when outlining his plans for the university’s future.
“We have the opportunity to take our outstanding work to the next level and realize the fullest, deepest promise of higher education in this tumultuous time—to do our great work through the lens of equity in order to build a community where everyone is welcomed for the person they are and the person they are becoming,” he said, noting that CWU must focus on student engagement and success above all.
“We must prepare ourselves as an institution to help all of our students succeed at the highest levels possible and learn to value and sustain the richness of the identities, cultures, histories, languages, literacies, and backgrounds they bring with them,” he added.
Note: Media, video clips from Thursday’s ceremony are available by request. Additional photos from the day’s events will appear on CWU’s Flickr page.
Media Contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, David.Leder@cwu.edu, 509-963-1518