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CWU innovation in student service

Harvey Field
Published:2015-12-30 School
CWU innovation in student service    Print Snohomish Times    
CWU innovation in student service

Innovation helped Central Washington University break records for enrollment and state construction funding, allowed for the completion of an ambitious technology overhaul, and produced national academic recognition across the board in 2015.

“We’re looking for better, smarter ways to serve students,” said CWU President James L. Gaudino. “It means adding value at every step in a student’s education—and doing so with compassion for individual students.”

Gaudino said that approach to student success earned CWU the top spot in the state for best return on tuition investment by The Economist magazine. The distinguished publication calculated what median earnings should be for a school’s graduates—and then showed whether graduates were over or under the estimate. According to analysis released in October by The Economist, CWU graduates annually earn more than $4,562 above expectations, better than graduates of any other institution in the state.

Innovative outreach strategies produced a record increase in freshman enrollment, which jumped by 21 percent over the same time last year. The university enrolled 1,653 freshmen, 290 more than the previous year. The university’s total fall quarter enrollment of 10,912 students was the second highest in school history.

“We increased the immediacy and frequency of communications with potential students—and we based our communications on market research,” Gaudino said. “We launched a virtual campus tour and we’re overhauling our website in order to adapt to new mobile technologies and the real-time expectations of this generation of students.”

Data is also driving more than outreach to new students. In 2015, CWU wrapped a two-year project called “improving Central Applications and Technology” (iCAT), which allowed CWU to retire 70 servers and save tens of thousands of staff hours. iCAT reduced the purchasing cycle by 80 percent and eliminated the need annually for more than 100,000 pieces of paper.

CWU’s innovative approach to construction and facilities management laid the foundation for a record state capital appropriation. The school also has the best record in the state for efficient management of capital projects, which have never incurred a cost overrun.

In July the state legislature appropriated more than $95.2 million for construction projects, including $56 million to renovate Samuelson Union Building; $8 million to upgrade underground infrastructure; $4.9 million to tear down and replace the south annex of Old Heat, a mothballed steam plant; and $4.3 million to design a comprehensive Health Sciences building.

Innovative teaching, research, and creative work earned CWU programs and personnel top state and national accolades in 2015. Highlights include the following :
• American Choral Directors Association: Gary Weidenaar, Washington State Leadership and Service Award
• BestSchools.org: BA Professional and Creative Writing ranked 7th nationally for program quality, and faculty strength
• College Value Online: BS Safety & Health Management, ranked 5th nationally for tuition, financial aid, number of minors, return on investment, and concentration or areas of emphasis offered
• Geological Society of America, Lisa Ely elected Fellow of the GSA of the in recognition of her research in climate change
• Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival: Scott Robinson, Gold Medallion of Excellence
• National Association of Geoscience Teachers: Nick Zentner, the 2015 James Shea Award for exceptional teaching
• Summit Creative Awards International: Glen Bach and David Bieloh, gold awards for advertising artwork
• Washington Music Educators Association: Mark Lane, Outstanding Music Educator of the Year; Chris Bruya, Higher Education Music Educator of the Year




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