President Wohlpart addresses key points in state of the university

President Wohlpart. Photo courtesy of CWU website

President Wohlpart. Photo courtesy of CWU website

Evan Couch, News Editor

President Jim Wohlpart addressed multiple key points about the university in his annual State of the University and strategic planning exercise on Friday, Nov. 4. 

Key points covered in the State of the University speech included the current progress on the Vision and Mission for the university, enrollment numbers, budget numbers and more.

According to Wohlpart, there have been three straight years of dropping enrollment. Wohlpart said that fall enrollment for 2022 came in at just under 9,400 students. With the “large” class of 2023 graduating soon, Wohlpart said this will drop the enrollment even lower next year.

On the other side of the down numbers, Wohlpart said the current freshman class is up 90 students from last year with 1,550 students. Wohlpart also mentioned that the university will be returning to a recruitment process that they have used in the past where they will hope to retain more students.

“The reason for this change is that we have shifted our recruitment process from one that is transactional to one that is more relational, working more directly and closely with students, their families, their guidance counselors and even their teachers,” Wohlpart said.

Along with the decrease in enrollment, Wohlpart said this has a direct effect on other aspects of the university like the budget. 

According to Wohlpart, due to the low enrollment and not meeting the built in contingency of 9,900 students, there was a $2.5 million tuition reduction in the final working budget. Wohlpart said to adjust to the decrease in a working budget, they have found ways to balance it through reducing expected expenses.

One example given was a decrease in the amount spent on tuition waivers and scholarships. Wohlpart said because the typical $15.5 million used for tuition waivers and scholarships went to $14.4 million due to fewer students, this saved $1.1 million.

Wohlpart also said the university is saving about $5.1 million due to unfilled work positions. Wohlpart clarified that these unfilled positions have been that way for a while and are not new reductions in staffing.

Due to low staffing, Wohlpart mentioned that it is happening in all levels of the university, including the executive levels.

According to Wohlpart, they have permanently eliminated one of seven vice president positions at the executive level. Wohlpart said they will have an update in the coming months about how they will continue to adjust to the right work size. 

One key point in the State of the University was the inclusion of the progress for the new Vision and Mission for CWU. Wohlpart talked about the work that went into where they are currently in this process.

“While there is urgency in this work, it must be done with intentionality or it will be merely performative,” Wohlpart said. “To be a true learning organization will mean being in uncomfortable spaces together so that we can grow and learn how to do things differently.”

Wohlpart also said there is still more work to be done as they head into the next phase where they will create a strategic plan and define values. 

“While we have challenges ahead of us, together, we will find a pathway through,” Wohlpart said.