By: Linda Schactler
Posted: Jan. 10, 2012
Central Washington University is emerging from the Great Recession stronger than ever and with new opportunities at hand, according to President James L. Gaudino. Today, he delivered the 2012 State of the University address to a statewide audience of faculty, staff, and students.
Stating “the future is as bright as we choose to make it,” Gaudino outlined opportunities that will benefit the university if CWU embraces change and creates innovative approaches to communication, teaching, and learning.
“We have the knowledge; we have the talent. But we must have the will to adapt to a changing environment,” Gaudino said, urging people to share ideas. “If we pursue the opportunities before us we can take this university to even greater heights and enhance both the quality of education and the quality of our lives.”
Gaudino said new opportunities include extending educational opportunity to veterans returning from service and establishing new paths for international study and exchange. Calling a university degree “the ticket to the middle class,” Gaudino also said CWU is better positioned than any other public university to help meet the growing demand for higher education.
“Two thirds of the jobs created in the next ten years will require a university degree,” said Gaudino, adding that economic growth increasingly is fueled by innovation and complex services. “In no time in your history or mine has a college education been more valuable or more fundamental to personal and professional success.”
Gaudino noted that Washington State ranks near the bottom of states in the percent of residents who seek baccalaureate degrees. He pointed out that the state is an importer of college graduates, and “simply is not creating the opportunity our residents need in order to qualify for some of the very best careers.”
Gaudino challenged faculty and staff to think of and implement innovative new ways to reach out in two other areas. He urged faculty and staff to think of new ways to welcome veterans to CWU. Gaudino also pointed out that the university needs to be a place where even more military veterans can meet their higher educational needs. He compared the current situation to the influx of military personnel who returned to school following World War II, aided by the G.I. Bill.
“Central has done much to reach out to veterans,” Gaudino said. “That our veteran enrollment has doubled over the last few years is proof of that, as is our national recognition as a military-friendly institution. We must and will continue to make CWU a first choice for our veterans.”
A third area of emphasis was enriching the university’s capacity to prepare students for a global economy by creating new international learning opportunities. Gaudino said CWU is poised to take advantage of creating a richer international culture for CWU students, its faculty, and Washington, which is the most export-dependent state in the union.
“We do a disservice to our students if we fail to prepare them to excel in a global workplace,” Gaudino said. “Ideally, all of our students someday will be able to travel and to study abroad. I am excited about the opportunity to build the diversity of cultures and perspectives at Central.”
Gaudino said that, despite the changing educational environment, CWU will not abandon its core strengths: small class size, individualized instruction, real-world experiences, engaged learning, and a focus on the student as an individual.
“We must continue to focus on making this university a place students want to come, a place that welcomes people from all walks of life, from every corner of the earth,” he said. “We are well positioned to take advantage of exciting opportunities—better positioned, in fact, than any of the four-year public universities in Washington.”