CWU News

From the President: VP Student Engagement and Success and Division

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing with two very important and wonderful pieces of news as we deepen our commitment to becoming a model learning community of equity and belonging.

First, Dr. Margaret Ortega has accepted the position of Vice President for the Division of Student Engagement and Success at Central Washington University. Dr. Ortega has a rich background and a wealth of experience that will allow us to elevate our work with student success through creating a culture of belonging with an emphasis on equity. She is also very supportive of our journey to become a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Listening to the CWU community about their needs and expectations of university leaders is fundamental to living the principles of shared governance and responsibility. To that end, I want to thank all who engaged in the interview process that led to the selection of Dr. Ortega. She brings a proven record of experience that affirms what we heard from the on-campus interview feedback: she models collaboration, inclusion, and deep care.

Dr. Ortega has served in several important roles over her thirty-year career, including Dean of Student Services and Special Programs in the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office; Director of Graduate Diversity, Recruitment and Retention at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Director of Student Programs and Activities Center at the University of California, Davis; and Director, Student Judicial Affairs at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Ortega has family in the Yakima Valley, and she and her partner, Elizabeth Estrella, look forward to making Ellensburg their home.

Second, after a year-long collaborative and inclusive process to consider how we can elevate and integrate access, retention, and success through an intentional and strategic approach, I am pleased to announce a new organizational structure for the Division of Student Engagement and Success. The new structure is aligned with the university’s new vision, as well as that of the new division: to support equity, build community, and cultivate belonging throughout the student journey. A PowerPoint with the new structure has been loaded onto the Student Engagement and Success initiatives page.

The new organizational structure will keep the Vice President closely aligned with offices involved in recruitment, admissions, and student success; and it will include one Associate Vice President to provide support for the entire division and lead collaborative work across divisions. The new Associate Vice President and their support team will be focused on equity and belonging.

The structure still leaves several issues to engage, such as the place of marketing and communication and our desire to create an integrated marketing plan that lives our new brand at the university; the role of the Centers and their relationship to the Transfer Center; and the length of some of our interim director roles to make certain that the new Vice President can participate in selecting the leadership team of the division.

Please join me in thanking the interim Leadership Team in Student Engagement and Success, along with the entire division, as they built a learning community to consider the adaptive challenge of creating the structure that meets the needs of all students today and for years to come. If you have questions, please let me know.


A. James Wohlpart