CWU News

CWU sets first-year enrollment record

CWU students on campus, fall 2016. Central Washington University is reporting a 15 percent increase in first-year fall enrollment, setting a new all-time record.

The new mark comes on the heels of a record 21 percent increase in first-year students last year. This year, 1,908 first-year students are enrolled, up from 1,654 last fall. 

Overall, a total of 10,559 state-funded undergraduates are taking  CWU classes during the 2016-17 academic year.

“We believe the strong growth is due to the appeal of small classes, excellence in teaching, and Central's commitment to creating a welcoming campus climate for people from all walks of life,” noted Sharon O’Hare, CWU vice president of enrollment management.

Fall enrollment also marked a record for students of color, who comprised 33.8 percent of the first-year class. Hispanic students are the largest single ethnic group at 17 percent. Growth among first-year Hispanic students has increased by 161 percent since 2009, while overall Hispanic student enrollment is up 16 percent during that same time period.

“It’s especially exciting to see the continued growth in students of color choosing CWU,” said O’Hare. “A commitment to opening the doors of higher education to all students will always be part of Central’s DNA.”

CWU also enrolled a higher number of women than ever this fall—6,195, or about 52 percent of the student body. Among freshman, 160 more women are enrolled at CWU this fall than a year ago.

For 2016, about 92 percent of first-year students are from Washington. More than 72 percent are western Washington residents; including nearly as many from King County as from all central and eastern Washington counties combined.

O'Hare said CWU's growing reputation for value has been fueled by recognition of The Economist and Forbes. CWU also has garnered recognition by several organizations recently for inclusiveness.

Last month, CWU was recognized as one of just 14 schools as a “national role model” for its commitment to diversity by Minority Access, Inc. For the last two years, Central has also earned the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of radio services and integrated communications, 509-963-1487,

October 11, 2016