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CWU Trustees Approve Presidential Search Finalists


The Central Washington University Board of Trustees Friday unanimously voted to accept five candidates recommended by the Trustees Search Advisory Committee (TSAC) to be finalists in the presidential search.

Three of the candidates are women and two are people of color. Three are currently serving as provosts, one is a president, and one is a chief executive officer. All have earned tenure in an academic discipline and have deep academic experience. However, three also bring experience in professional fields outside academia, in engineering, medicine, and banking.

TSAC chair, Trustee Erin Black, said that although there was some trepidation about starting a search in the middle of a pandemic, more than 80 people from all over the world applied for the position, but the process produced an excellent pool.

“We were delighted to have an extremely diverse and talented pool of candidates,” said Black. “These are remarkable individuals and each would bring unique strengths and experiences to the role of president.”

Co-chair, Trustee Robert Nellams praised the work of the 13-member search committee, which included representatives of alumni and the CWU Foundation boards, of exempt and classified employees, the Faculty Senate, academic administrators, and student government.

“The board has been so thankful for the intelligence, insight, and goodwill the committee members brought to this critical process,” said Nellams. “The committees’ investment of time and energy in this work has truly made a difference in the future of Central Washington University.”

Trustee Jeff Hensler, also a co-chair of the search committee, said the final phase of the search would be for the board itself to meet and interview candidates.

“Hiring a president is the most important responsibility of the trustees,” said Hensler. “It’s important to meet the next leader of our university face-to-face and truly understand what has brought them to this search and how they intend to lead our university. 

The full board will interview the finalists during the month of November and hope to hire a new president before the end of the year, although it’s not yet known when the new president would take office.

The process of hiring a new president began last February, when the Board of Trustees hired Dallas-based R. William Funk and Associates to conduct a national search. The board also appointed the search committee in March, and tasked them with reaching out to university stakeholders to learn what they perceive to be the greatest challenges for the university and to discuss the qualities desired in a new president.

The committee met with 430 stakeholders in a series of listening sessions from march through September. The process included focus groups with CWU employees and students as well as with community leaders, donors, and alumni. From those meetings, the committee issued three reports of its findings, which were presented to the Board of Trustees.

The deadline for applications was September 30. In October, the search committee reviewed and interviewed the top ten candidates before recommending five finalists to the Board of Trustees.

Current CWU President James L. Gaudino announced in February he would be stepping down on July 31, 2021.

Media contact: Linda Schactler, Secretary to the Board of Trustees, 509-963-1384, schactler@cwu.edu.