CWU News

CWU Board of Trustees Launch Formal Presidential Search

Board of Trustees logoCentral Washington University’s Board of Trustees formally began the public outreach process that will conclude with the appointment of a new university president. Current CWU President James L. Gaudino, who has served since January 2009, previously announced his intention to step down on July 31, 2021.

Board Chair Ron Erickson said the trustees would function as a committee of the whole to lead the search, with participation by faculty, staff, and students. 

“Hiring a president is the most important responsibility of the Board of Trustees and one that cannot be delegated,” Erickson said, adding that the full committee membership would be named in June.

The Board also unanimously voted to establish a Trustees Search Advisory Committee (TSAC) to reach out to university stakeholders to learn what they perceive to be the greatest challenges for the university and to discuss what qualities are desired in presidential candidates.

Trustee Erin Black was appointed to chair the TSAC. She indicated that open listening sessions will be organized as soon as possible. Sessions will include students, university staff and faculty, alumni, members of the communities CWU serves, advisory boards, and the CWU Foundation board.

The board also agreed to establish a Search Committee that will include all of the members of the Board of Trustees as well as up to five non-board members representing various stakeholders. 

Search consultant Bill Funk, the CEO of R William Funk and Associates, also will spend time with key constituencies to learn what is needed in presidential candidates.

“The board is relying on the perspectives and experience of our stakeholders to inform this search and help us to identify the best leader for Central,” Erickson said, noting that all universities in the country were facing extraordinary challenges. “The participation of our students, employees and friends will be essential in shaping an effective search.”

The board also adopted a draft search timeline, in which the actual recruitment of presidential candidates would begin by August 1, after a situation assessment by the Board on July 23 and 24. The search consultant will develop an applicant pool in August and September. Semi-finalist interviews would occur in October, finalist interviews in November, and the successful candidate would be appointed by the end of the calendar year.

During a May 14 work session of the board, Assistant Attorney General Alan Smith, who advises CWU, explained how the state’s Open Public Meetings Act applies to presidential searches.

At the same meeting, Funk described how presidential searches, the candidates, and higher education climate have changed since the last time CWU conducted a presidential search in 2008. He noted that political, social, and financial forces have altered perceptions of and pressures on public higher education, and have changed the expectations of and demands on university presidents.

According to the American College President Study, conducted annually by the American Council on Education (, the five duties that absorb most of a president’s time are budget/financial management, fundraising, senior-level team management, governing board relations, and enrollment management. 

For more information please contact Linda Schactler, secretary to the Board of Trustees, Schactler, 509-607-4103.