‘On the cusp of greatness’

President James L. Gaudino set goals for retention, diversity and sustainability during the annual university address

Nicholas Tucker, News Editor

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CWU President James Gaudino announced his three long term university goals at the fall 2019 State of the University Address. CWU will strive to reduce its campus carbon footprint by 5%, increase freshman to sophomore retention from 71% to 80% and increase the diversity of its faculty and staff by 5%, all over the next five years.

The idea of diversity was introduced by Robert Nellams, director of the Seattle Center and vice chair of the CWU Board of Trustees. Nellams shared a poem by Nina Miriam called “what if we othered your child and you,” which he connected to his experience being a black man at CWU decades ago.

“This is personal for me because I have experienced othering here. I have felt somewhat helpless while trying to support my children through it,” Nellams said.

Gaudino echoed this note as he announced his diversity goal, saying that if students don’t see people who look like themselves represented, they could feel like they don’t belong. How Gaudino and his cabinet intend to increase diversity wasn’t specified, but he did mention that each hiring manager would have their own goals  and are being encouraged to take diversity into account when making decisions.

Kyle Wilkinson

Moving on to sustainability, Gaudino mentioned Greta Thunberg’s address to the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit and the surrounding climate strike movement. 

“The power of her passion gave an indication of the feelings of her generation, and reminded us of our responsibility to act immediately to confront those challenges,” Gaudino said.

According to Gaudino, CWU has already been working towards increasing its ecological sustainability for the past several years. He cited projects like the new Wildcat Neighborhood Farm, more efficient irrigation networks and the replacement of older vehicles in the motor pool with hybrid and electric vehicles. Gaudino also mentioned the bronze-level recognition CWU earned from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

“Bronze is good—perhaps excellent,” Gaudino said. “The goal for the next five years is to be great, as indicated by a gold or platinum rating.”

This year’s address had a theme which originated from interaction Gaudino had in January with the leader of a Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities visitation team who said: “[CWU] is an excellent university that is on the cusp of greatness.” 

According to Gaudino, what was meant as a compliment was taken as a challenge.

“The word ‘cusp’ started to bother me,” Gaudino said. “To be on the cusp suggests we are standing on the line separating two states, one being unusually good, the other being remarkable and eminent.”

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