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James Gaudino | Higher ed helps build community

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Wenatchee is fortunate to be served by one of our nation’s great community newspapers. The Woods family is known throughout the profession as pioneers and as guardians of what journalism has been and again needs to be.

Journalism students still study the courage of Rufus Woods, publisher of the then Daily World, and his advocacy of the Coulee Dam and the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. Those projects must have been unimaginable to many of his readers in 1918, the year of the first article explaining a grand vision for Central Washington.

Today, the large foundations that conduct research on the health of the newspaper industry are promoting the concept of “community journalism.” Their ideas seem new and uncomfortable to cities served by large, corporate-owned papers.

For readers of papers like The Wenatchee World, community journalism is as comfortable as an old pair of boots. That is because the Woods family commitment to place has been inherited by Wilfred and now, again, by Rufus.

Rufus has recently written a column about Pastor Misael Fajardo-Perez, noting a commonality in their desire to build community. Like churches and newspapers, educational institutions are also builders of communities.

You are well served by Wenatchee Valley College, and Central Washington University is proud to be a partner with them in the delivery of Bachelor of Arts degrees at our university center on the WVC campus.

While our partnership pales in comparison to the Coulee Dam and Irrigation Project, ours was also a pretty radical idea some 40 years ago. We are proud of our successes, but we also know we can do more.

Universities can enrich communities in ways beyond the delivery of degrees. We can, for example, work with existing industries to improve productivity, or with new businesses hoping to locate in the community. We can offer assistance and expertise in addressing important social and environmental programs. Or, we can simply bring people together to enjoy activities ranging from art shows to rugby matches.

Wenatchee is blessed to be in a state with many fine public and private colleges and universities. CWU takes seriously its responsibility to serve the Wenatchee community and hopes to engage its alumni and friends, industry and corporate partners more proactively in the months and years ahead.

This “Central Conversations” column is simply one place to start that dialog of partnership. I hope you’ll join me in the discussion and thank you in advance for your time, ideas and questions.

James Gaudino is president of Central Washington University.