There’s been a theme to the last few years at Central Washington University, and that theme is one of change.

Not only has the face of campus changed with multiple construction projects and more coming down the pipeline, but the inner workings of the university are changing as well. Faculty are 18 months into a brand new budgeting system and most recently a new general education system was passed and is about to be implemented for next school year.

So when university president Jim Gaudino took to the stage at McConnell Hall for his annual State of the University address, he made sure to applaud the staff and faculty’s efforts for not only adapting to the change, but sometimes even leading it.

Gaudino illustrated in his speech how through these changes, Central is staying ahead of the curve of higher education. He boasted about how university administrators around the country, including his alma mater of Michigan State University, are constantly asking him for advice on how they’re doing things.

And while he said he’s immensely proud of how his university is doing, he asked the audience rhetorically if they should be satisfied?

“The answer absolutely not,” Gaudino said. “It’s not good enough. We should take pride in what we’ve accomplished but we should never ever be satisfied. What we do is simply too important to coast.”

Retention

Speaking of themes, retention is also a recurring one for Gaudino in his annual addresses, especially when it comes to retaining students between their first and second years at Central.

Gaudino said the school currently has a 70 percent retention rate, and challenged his faculty to improve that to 80 percent next year. In enrollment numbers that turns out to be about 200 students.

“Do we know 200 students that are leaving Central, for reasons other than their choice to go some place else?” Gaudino asked. “We need to figure out why they are leaving how we can intervene to make them successful.”

He also added while more effort was needed, the building blocks on which the university’s core values are built are already there.

At the end of his speech, Gaudino laid out three road blocks that need to be focused on in order to keep students enrolling and staying at Central.

Affordability

“The inability to afford college education is a national crisis, in fact, it’s a national disaster,” Gaudino said. “We are doing very well keeping cost of education as low as possible, but we can not rest until no student leaves CWU because he or she can not afford to stay.”

He emphasized that scholarships and the work that the CWU Foundation does is very important, and that departments need get through roadblocks to assets, as well as find more assets.

Advising

Gaudino said advising is another issue the university must address, and not because the advisers aren’t doing a good job, but the system needs some adjustments to become more efficient.

“Rarely do (students) complain about their advisier,” he said. “But a typical student at Central has three, four or five advisers without one being in charge of the others. We need to address that kind of an issue… so they get out of here as quickly as they possibly can.”

Inclusivity

Gaudino highlighted the university’s awards and recognitions for its efforts in inclusivity and diversity, and said that the ability to work together with open minds and the ability to express ideas freely without fear of retribution is essential to the environment he’s proposing.

While the effort of expression has been there on the student side, Gaudino said he fears faculty do not feel as comfortable raising new ideas that challenge authority.

“We must change the way we work with one another,” Gaudino said. “We have no choice but to tackle this important issue. It’s my top priority for coming year. I’ve asked the human resources director to work with me to address this critical issue, and I welcome all of you to have voice in that.”

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