CWU News

Enrollment Surge Fills CWU Residence Halls

Record enrollment will fill the rooms of every residence hall at Central Washington University for the first time in seven years. CWU is projecting a 19-percent increase in enrollment of first-year students this fall, about 1,960 students, which would be 300 students beyond the previous record of 1,666 in 2010.

Sharon O’Hare, CWU’s vice president of enrollment management, said this year’s double-digit growth comes on the heels of a 21-percent increase in first-year enrollment in 2015. That increase generated 1,666 first-year students.

“Families are recognizing that Central’s welcoming campus offers some of the best teaching in the nation and delivers remarkable value,” said O’Hare, adding that CWU also is anticipating a 13-percent increase in students transferring from other schools. “Anything can happen between now and September 21 when school starts, but the numbers are looking very positive and very strong. We really won’t know the total university enrollment until the first of October.”

Richard DeShields, associate dean of student living, said some students who haven’t arranged for housing yet may not be able to find it on campus.

“With the surge in first-year enrollment and more students overall wanting to live on campus, just about every room is booked for fall quarter,” DeShields said. “We’ve got rooms set aside for first-year students who are required to live on campus, but we may not be able to accommodate returning or transfer students who haven’t already arranged for housing on campus.”

About 2,700 students live in CWU’s 19 residence halls. DeShields said in previous years, the university would temporarily close one or two of the residence halls during the school year for regular maintenance and painting. This year, however, all of the residence halls will be needed to house the anticipated upswing in first-year students. DeShields said the university will keep up with building preservation and maintenance by scheduling it during breaks and the summer.

The last time Central used all of its residence hall capacity was in 2010-2011, when the original Barto Hall was demolished and rebuilt; the new facility opened in fall 2012 and added 170 rooms to inventory. This fall Munson Hall, which has been used as a conference center in recent years, also will be pressed into service as a residence hall, opening another 69 rooms.

DeShields said the university encourages returning students who have not been assigned housing as well as transfer students who are not required to live on campus to work with local student housing rental agencies to secure off-campus housing.

“The Ellensburg community is a strong supporter of CWU students,” he said. “Central values our students and has begun conversations to look at the future for its housing program as it continues to be a university of choice.”

Media contact: Linda Schactler, Vice President of Public Affairs, 509-607-4103,

July 21, 2016