Wohlpart reviews his first year

Fifteenth president focuses on Non Tenure Track Faculty and Inclusion and Engagement goals


Courtesy of CWU Flickr

Addie Adkins and Libby Williams

Applause rang across the auditorium as a gold chain with a gold medallion was placed on President Jim Wohlpart. The Presidential Installation on May 19 marks Wohlpart’s first year at CWU, officially inducting him as the 15th president of the university.

Wohlpart, whose work started in June of 2021, said he has made a point to show that diversity, equity and inclusion has been on the top of his list of goals. 

“The foundation of our work must be the engagement and success of an increasingly diverse student body,” Wohlpart said during the installation. “This must be the lever that drives everything we do, and we must consider student success broadly through three pillars: first, ensuring the professional preparation of our students, second developing their civic capacities and third assisting them in developing a sense of purpose and meaning.”

Presidential Duties and a Look Back on The First Year

According to Wohlpart, his duties and goals are set by the Board of Trustees. He said he had a list of eight goals this year, though some of them are longer term. 

“One of [the goals] was creating the vision, mission and strategic plan. [Others were to] elevate shared governance, increase high impact practices, launch a campaign,” Wohlpart said. “So those eight goals are how they will measure my success.”

Creating the vision and mission statement and setting a strategic plan to reach that vision and mission is one long term goal set. The vision and mission statement, sent to the university community including students, went to the Board of Trustees Friday for approval. 

After approval, the next step for this goal will be strategic planning in order to find ways to best implement the vision and mission, according to Wohlpart. 

“The steering committee will work over the summer thinking about how we would organize a strategic plan,” Wohlpart said. “That strategic plan will create a pathway to get us to this place of equity and it’ll mean recording more students of color, first generation students, low socioeconomic students, providing more resources for them to be successful … and then help them succeed as they go all the way through staying at institution and graduating.”

In addition to the yearly goals, Wohlpart said his day-to-day duties include fundraising, talking to legislators and managing the executive leadership team. The executive team faced changes in February as two people resigned their posts. See The Observer’s coverage of that here. 

Wohlpart also made changes to the executive team positions. According to Wohlpart, he took the Vice President for Enrollment position and combined it with duties from the Academic and Student Life position, creating an all new Vice President of Student Engagement Success. This position is expected to be filled this summer. 

The Chief of Staff position has also seen several applicants as the search for Linda Schactler’s replacement continues. Wohlpart said the Vice President for Advancement interim position ended and Paul Stone was hired for that role.  

Wohlpart said he hopes to continue providing transparency to the students and the rest of the university community. In addition to increasing communication, he said he’s seen a lot of student involvement as well.

“What I keep hearing from people is that they really have appreciated the transparency,” Wohlpart said. “We’ve had students involved in all of the big committees that are on all of our searches. And I hope I send out lots of emails … so hopefully we work to increase that.” 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

In an interview with The Observer in fall quarter he said the number one goal he had was to create a culture of inclusion. See more from that Q&A here.

“As we model this type of civil discourse at Central Washington University, we must build an environment of meaningful engagement with others who have different backgrounds and world views,” Wohlpart said during the installation.

One of the ways Wohlpart plans to change this culture is in the vision and mission statement, and eventually the strategic plan. The mission statement reads, “In order to build a community of equity and belonging, Central Washington University nurtures culturally sustaining practices that expand access and success to all students.”

With Pride Month coming up in June, some students have wondered how the university plans to ensure this culture of inclusion will be felt by the LBGTQ community specifically. 

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is be more proactive with our work around the LGBTQ community and other communities … to demonstrate our support for them. Then we hope that that helps change the culture,” Wohlpart said. “We’re trying to be proactive with a whole series of things with a lot of events, a lot of education, a lot of demonstrations.”

Additionally, Wohlpart plans to work more with the campus and student community regarding disability services. He said he hopes to shift the idea of disability services “which talks about a deficit,” to making the campus culture more about accessibility and accessibility services.

“[This] talks about the institution’s responsibility to everybody having access to [those services],” Wohlpart said. “We actually have a donor who’s very interested in accessibility services. We’re working with that donor right now to increase the opportunity for us to offer services to a whole range of students that we don’t currently offer to.”

Other Questions From Students

Early in the month, The Observer posted a call for questions to the president on social media. Some additional questions students had regarded COVID-19 and enrollment number and how those have affected Non-Tenure Track faculty. 

According to Wohlpart, there has been little evidence that suggests a surge or outbreak of COVID-19 among students, staff and faculty. He said some faculty have noticed a few students in classes out sick, but nothing like it used to be. 

“It’s interesting, as cases have started to go back up a little bit, the hospital cases are not going up,” Wohlpart said.

Now that registration has opened, enrollment projection numbers are expected to be around 10,000 students, as Wohlpart predicted in early fall. 

“We are still projecting 1,700 freshmen, it may end up being slightly higher than that, [and around] 900 transfers,” Wohlpart said. “Still slightly down from last year, but not nearly as strong as we’ve had in the past.”

Wohlpart said there have been some adjustments to faculty, as there is every year. He said because of the last two small incoming classes let in during the pandemic, it has affected “the frontlines in ways it shouldn’t have.”