Presidential residence

The CWU board of trustees is discussing possible renovations to the presidential residence on Wildcat Way

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The Central Washington University board of trustees voted to contractually allow president Jim Gaudino to vacate the presidential residence and pay for his relocation costs in order to more easily look at what upgrades and renovations might be needed for the next president.

Trustees were hesitant to approve a concrete plan to spend money on the house during Friday’s meeting, most citing the timing due to COVID-19 budget restraints.

The house, which doubles as an event center, on Wildcat Way across from campus has not been meaningfully remodeled since 1967.

The board discussed alternative options for housing a president off campus, but local Realtor David Chamberlain said nothing in the area would quite match what the current facility offers in terms of hosting 50-100 people.

Gaudino discussed his experience living in the house, saying while there were drawbacks like noise, living in view of campus kept him embedded in the life of students.

“It’s a very pleasant experience,” Gaudino said. “You’re connected psychologically and emotionally to the campus.”

According to the board of trustees meeting materials, the estimated cost for a comprehensive renovation is $872,233. The project was split into several different estimates and time frames:

  • Interior event space — $622,583.33: would include a kitchen remodel, replace the current bathroom with two uni-sex bathrooms, remove guest bedroom, repair steam-heat system and upgraded electrical.
  • Building envelope — $151,968.20: Install energy-efficient windows, install fire sprinkler system throughout, repair and replace warped front door, paint exterior.
  • Residence upgrades — $97,681.46: New paint and carpeting throughout, patch holes in the walls, upgrade electric fireplace to natural gas, enhance security system, upgrade overhead lighting, replace washing machine, replace window treatments, restore wood flooring.

The board discussed waiting until the new president was hired to get their input on how the renovations should go, since whether or not they are raising kids could be a deciding factor. The presidential search firm advisor Bill Funk noted that university presidential houses are among the worst-kept facilities across the country, since each president likes to pass the buck to the next one to avoid bad press.

Gaudino said while the university’s financial outlook doesn’t look great now, it’s not going to magically get better two or three years down the road because of budget cuts at the state level.

“COVID may be behind us (by then), but the state’s economy is not going to be bounced back to the old days,” Gaudino said. “It’s going to be a three-year period of very difficult budgets.”

After the board voted to allow Gaudino to vacate the residence, they agreed to look at prioritizing work that needed to be done, then identifying funding sources.

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