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CWU president seeking to partner with NCW communities

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Central Washington University President James Gaudino has been making the rounds in the Wenatchee Valley in recent weeks, looking for ways that the college might serve this area. He wants to know what the challenges are here in North Central Washington and if there are ways that CWU can be helpful.     

This open approach is most welcome and greatly needed. It's wonderful to see this kind of personal engagement.     

Gaudino has some creative ideas about how to deliver effective education differently than the traditional model. CWU has had courses delivered here via closed-circuit television as well as on-campus offerings, but Gaudino sees an opportunity to use both technology to deliver more coursework enhanced by face-to-face interactions with a local instructor. The university views satellite campuses like Wenatchee as portals, in recognition of the need to deliver education differently.     

If CWU has  the expertise and resources to meet these identified local needs, they'll look to move forward. But some needs will have to be met by other four-year institutions, Gaudino said.     

The relationship between Wenatchee Valley College and CWU continues to evolve and grow, he told me. Besides transfers of students to CWU and dual admissions programs, they are also building a dual enrollment approach to allow students to earn credit at both institutions.     

Gaudino sees a role for the university in supporting economic development of the region. They could bring expertise such as supply chain management to the local workforce if needed, for example. CWU is  also looking to find creative ways to connect with the community and WVC in music and sports, among other programs. He had an epiphany last year when smoke in the region forced CWU to move a game across the mountains. He expected a few fans at the game and instead they packed the stadium, showing the deep connection with the alumni.     

He also hopes to find opportunities to support our local K-12 educational system. As of a few years ago, 87 percent of local graduates needed remediation work in math and/or English. That's something we need to address.    

The fact that a university president is out talking about these issues and making connections with hopes of better serving the region is a positive sign. In these days of tight budgets, it's rare but smart for institutions like CWU to aggressively collaborate and partner with communities rather than just looking for more donations.