Gaudino gives annual State of the University address on Jan. 15


Nick Jahnke, Senior News Reporter

The annual State of the University Address was a celebration of CWU’s culture and its accomplishments in recent years. CWU President James L. Gaudino and Board of Trustees Chair Ron Erickson recounted some of the biggest changes the university has seen over the last year, the commendations CWU has received from external sources and spoke about future changes for the community.

The newly overhauled general education program was one of the larger points brought up by Gaudino and Erickson. Near the end of Fall 2019, the faculty senate voted to approve changes to the previous program and move on to the implementation stage. The new program includes updated requirements to the criteria for what courses may be considered general education, as well as changes to the way courses are organized.

Gaudino said that in his time as president, there have been two other attempts to overhaul the general education program, with limited success. He said that now, after a two-year period of research and study, the faculty and administration have finally been able to make progress. The new program is scheduled to be implemented by Fall 2019, which according to Gaudino, means they have their work cut out for them. Gaudino said that he and Provost Katherine Frank have pledged to provide any and all support the program may require to keep moving, including financial support.

Erickson said he believes that the university must evolve and adapt the way it teaches students to prepare them to live in a world that is growing ever more complex. He said that changing the curriculum is a vital step in the right direction.

“In my view, education is the only armour that can protect society against the assault of cynicism, misinformation and bad actors with an agenda,” Erickson said.

Erickson presented a list of commendations CWU has received from various outside sources to an audience of about 150 people. Erickson said that CWU was named a top 10 regional university in the west in US News and Report’s national college ranking. When CWU was compared to universities of similar enrollment, it was placed at number one in the report.

Erickson also listed commendations from Forbes Magazine and Money Magazine, which ranked CWU one of the top universities in the nation and in the state. Another place Erickson said CWU shines is in it’s online programs. For example, the online writing program is ranked fifth in the nation, according to best colleges website.

Another feat mentioned was CWU’s achievement of the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award, granted by Insight into Diversity Magazine. Erickson said this was the fourth time in five years CWU has earned the reward, and that it embodies CWU’s mission to provide for inclusivity and diversity in everything it does.

“We take pride in what we are,” Erickson said. “A comprehensive university that places its highest priority on the achievement of each and every student who is admitted regardless of their educational, financial, or cultural backgrounds.”

Gaudino also spoke about some of the things CWU has in the works right now, the first being the 10-year construction plan for the art, science, technology, engineering and math facilities that is nearing conclusion. Gaudino mentioned that the final facility to be built will be used for health science and he hopes construction will begin during summer 2019.

“With my fingers crossed on both hands, I believe that the state legislature will be able to provide the promised second half of funding needed to construct the new health science building where Hertz Hall now sits,” Gaudino said.

According to Gaudino, a new strategic enrollment plan is going to be presented to the board of trustees for approval. He said the plan is the result of a year-long effort to entirely change the way CWU looks at enrollment.

Gaudino said that in the past, CWU has used the same strategy that nearly all universities use for enrollment. Enrollment is predicted by studying high school graduation rates, demographic trends and historical market shares.

Gaudino said that the goal of the new enrollment plan is to stop letting outside factors determine how CWU recruits prospective students and allow for CWU to determine what kind of student population it wants to have.

“The state of this university is better than it has ever been, we are an outstanding university on the cusp of greatness,” Gaudino said.

Gaudino ended his speech with the sentiment that although CWU is proud of what has been accomplished, they must continue to strive for greatness. He left the audience with a commitment to raising the CWU’s freshman to sophomore retention rate by at least 10 percent in the coming year.