State of the University address

Microsoft partners with Central on "YouthSpark"

Orlando Ayala, Microsoft chairman spoke to Central students about technology trends that could have an impact on sports and world connection. Central and Microsoft are pairing up.

Julia Moreno/Observer

Orlando Ayala, Microsoft chairman spoke to Central students about technology trends that could have an impact on sports and world connection. Central and Microsoft are pairing up.

Ray Payne, Staff Reporter

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Microsoft’s chairman and corporate vice president of emerging businesses, Orlando Ayala, joined Central President James Gaudino in his State of the University address last Monday.

This was the first time Gaudino was joined by someone else for the State of the University address.

When Ayala took the podium, he spoke about his upbringing in Colombia and his career growth in Microsoft. He went on to outline how Microsoft is working to further technological innovation.

Ayala spoke about a possible collaboration with Central to develop “YouthSpark,” a new program focused on bringing computer science skills to students and teachers.

“We are very into insuring that we are providing opportunity in computer skills for all kids,” Ayala said.

While nothing is currently in the works between the computer science program at Central and Microsoft, future involvement is a possibility, according to Ayala in a post-speech interview.

“We are very keen on ensuring that Microsoft provides all the tools and exchange of skills with computer science programs in all universities and, of course, Central Washington is for sure one of those we would love to do it more,” Ayala said.

Additionally, Ayala told the audience about that  Microsoft is developing technology that would use augmented reality for both educational use and entertainment.

Microsoft and Real Madrid are working together to offer a different experience for soccer fans through technological innovation, Ayala said.

Through their partnership with Real Madrid, Microsoft is researching the use of technology to  prevent sports injuries and to help young players learn and perform better.

Ayala stressed the importance of being a good team member, but not being an accomplice when there is clearly wrongdoing.

“[It’s] amazing time for opportunity,” Ayala said during the section of his speech that included leadership advice.

Gaudino led off the address by giving praise to the university staff and faculty. He assured the crowd there is a “university-wide commitment to our students.” Gaudino highlighted several academic statistics from 2015 before explaining his outlook for 2016.

In 2015, there was a 21 percent increase in freshmen admittance, with the retention rate going up by 5 percent for freshmen and sophomores.

The university is going to focus on getting re-accredited, having a “robust university-wide discussion” about what a baccalaureate is, and providing a “thorough review of our general education program” in 2016, Gaudino said.

Additionally, Gaudino addressed the lack of diversity on campus. He acknowledged the progress Central has already made, such as the fact that one out of three freshmen admitted are people of color. He did point out more can be done on campus.

“Central must continue to diversify its faculty and staff,” Gaudino said.

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State of the University address