CWU News

CWU President Gaudino Outlines Goals in State of the University Address

In his final State of the University address, Central Washington University President James L. Gaudino today applauded the campus community for embracing the goals he set for the institution last year and said the university was well on its way to achieving them.

“Your success in meeting critical goals places us in a very select group of universities, and we grow better every year,” Gaudino said in a speech that was recorded and presented online because of the need to maintain physical distance as a result of the COVID-19 virus.

Gaudino, who is stepping down from his position on July 31, 2021, noted the progress the university has made toward improving the freshman-to-sophomore retention rate, which has increased from 71 to 73 percent in the past year.

“This year, despite the impact of the pandemic, Central enrolled the largest sophomore class in the past ten years,” he said before adding the tools now exist to improve the retention rate to 85 percent over the next ten years.

Gaudino said another of the goals has been to increase the percentage of employees of color at Central. Students benefit from seeing reflections of themselves in faculty, staff, and administrators.

“We have adopted policies requiring that employees of color be on search committees. We are also reviewing the demographics of applicant pools. To aid in retention of those we hire, we have developed a mentor program to support employees of color and to provide a support network to aid them in their career trajectories,” he explained.

“Evidence suggests your efforts are working,” he continued. “We have already increased faculty diversity about 1.5 percent, suggesting we are on target to reach our five-year goal (of 5 percent).”

The president said the university is also doing a good job in reaching its third goal of improving its sustainability efforts. He cited recent efforts, such as the expansion of the Wildcat Neighborhood Farm, adoption of sustainable utensils and other products by Dining Services, and other initiatives as examples of how the university is moving in the right direction.

Gaudino began his address by noting the impact the virus has had on the university and thanking faculty, staff, and students for how they have responded to the challenges.

“This work was necessary, but also undesirable. No one wanted to make the changes forced by the pandemic. Yet, you did it, and you did it exceptionally well,” he said.

Other highlights of the speech:

  • Recognized alumnus and former Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ron Sims (‘71), with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his lifetime of accomplishments.
  • Honored former US Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis (’71), with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his service to his country and career achievements.
  • Congratulated Bobby Cummings, professor of English and Africana and Black Studies, who recently was presented with the university’s Lifetime Achievement in Diversity Award (which has been named in her honor).
  • Recognized Brandy Wiegers, who earned the 2020 Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Mathematical Association of America.
  • Recognized Jodi Musser, who was named the 2020 Washington State Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Educator of the Year.