CWU News

Reaccreditation underway at CWU

(L. to r.) CWU President James L. Gaudino and Charles Wight, NWCCU team leaderA reaccreditation team from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) will provide its initial proposed list of commendations and recommendations tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct. 24) at the end of its three-day visit to CWU.

The nine-member team is on the Ellensburg campus as part of a routine review. Regional accreditation is the process through which educational institutions are recognized for their performance and integrity, and which qualifies them to receive, or continue receiving, state and federal grants and other types of funding.

The process involved a year-long university self-study, which included input from university students, staff, faculty, and administrators. The on-campus evaluation, by the nine-member team, is a peer review of that data included in that report.

“We come from similar institutions in a similar geographic region, and we’re familiar with higher education within this area of the country,” said Charles Wight, the president of Salisbury (Maryland) University and former president at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, who heads the NWCCU team. “We do it in the spirit of helping the institution realize its full potential and its mission.”

CWU’s stated mission is to prepare students for enlightened, responsible, and productive lives; to produce research, scholarship, and creative expression in the public interest; and to serve as a resource to the region and the state through effective stewardship of university resources.

“The central Washington region is a very special spot,” said CWU President James L. Gaudino. “Particularly in Ellensburg, Central is the dominant educational, economic, and, to a large extent, cultural force. We are stewards of place. And our ‘place’ is getting larger as we reach out to our [University] Centers. The way we manage ourselves has a direct impact on lives.”

The mission is achieved through university adherence to five core themes: teaching and learning; inclusiveness and diversity; scholarship and creative expression; public service and community engagement; and, resource development and stewardship.

Gaudino, a member of the executive committee of the Council of Higher Education Accreditation, says the reaccreditation process will serve to make CWU an even stronger institution.

“Accreditation is where the rubber meets the road,” he said. “It’s having people from the outside, with objective eyes and deep experience, come onto our university and let us know what we are doing really well and offer their wisdom on ways we can improve ourselves in continuing to serve our students.”

While in Ellensburg, the reaccreditation team is holding open forums with students, staff, and faculty, and meeting with the university’s Board of Trustees and administration.

“My team and I have been through the self-study,” Wight said. “We are here to ‘peek under the hood,’ to ask some questions about anything that wasn’t clear to us about your self-study and to report back to the commission. But, we do this in the spirit of helping you become your best selves.”

The commission is recognized by the federal Education Department as the authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions in the NWCCU’s region, which includes seven states and British Columbia, Canada. It includes more than 160 accredited schools.

NWCCU accreditation applies to the entire institution and indicates that, as a whole, it is substantially achieving its mission and meeting the commission’s expectations for compliance with established criteria.

NWCCU developed out of the Northwest Association of Secondary and Higher Schools, which was established in 1917. CWU has been accredited since 1918.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,