CWU News

President Wohlpart speaks at Chamber of Commerce ‘State of the Community’ event

CWU President Jim Wohlpart

CWU President Jim Wohlpart spoke to the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce on March 7, highlighting CWU's community-first approach.

Central Washington University President Jim Wohlpart was one of the featured speakers at last week’s State of the Community event, hosted by the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce.

Wohlpart delivered his own State of the University address to the attendees, highlighting CWU’s ongoing effort to create better, more lasting connections in the Ellensburg community and across Kittitas County.

“One of the things that I’m dedicated to and committed to at CWU as president is not thinking about the thriving of the institution for the next five to 10 years, but I’m also thinking about 20 years and 30 years or 50 years,” Wohlpart said in an article published Saturday in the Ellensburg Daily Record.

That long-term approach is the primary reason the university focused so heavily last year on developing a new vision and mission. CWU is now finalizing a new set of values and hopes to complete a Strategic Plan later this year One of CWU’s values is to build and maintain authentic community partnerships.

“This commitment to collaborate must go both ways,” Wolhpart said at the March 7 Chamber event, adding that he takes seriously the commitment to collaborate on meeting the needs of Ellensburg and Kittitas County residents.

As a way of highlighting this desire to collaborate, Wohlpart has participated in a number of city, county, and school district events over the past year. He also spoke of the close relationships that are forming with the city and school districts to create a culture of belonging.

Wohlpart added that CWU is working more closely with the nonprofit community and pointed to the development of an interpretive center with the Kittitas Environmental Education Network. Meanwhile, Central is working to bring back summer camps that took place last year, committing $50,000 to that effort.

“We can make summer camps a real thing for our youths,” Wohlpart said. “What I know is that we cannot do this work without our partners.”

The president also touched on some challenges the university has faced, including struggling to better serve a large portion of the student body—particularly students of color, who make up about 42% of the student population.

Statistically, CWU loses 33% of its freshmen at the end of their first year, and most of them are students of color, he said.

“We must do a better job creating a culture of belonging for (our students) so that they feel welcomed, not just on campus, but in the city and county,” Wohlpart said. “We have work to do there, but we’re doing that work, which is fantastic.”