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Central Washington University
Central Washington University seal.svg
Former names
Washington State Normal School
Central Washington College of Education
Central Washington State College
MottoDocendo Discimus
Motto in English
By teaching we learn.
TypePublic university
EndowmentUS$18.1 million[1]
PresidentJim Wohlpart
ProvostMichelle DenBeste
Academic staff
515 (Fall 2018)[2]
Administrative staff
Students12,342 (Fall 2018)[2]
Undergraduates11,419 (Fall 2018)[2]
Postgraduates923 (Fall 2018)[2]
Location, ,
United States

47°00′07″N 120°32′24″W / 47.002°N 120.540°W / 47.002; -120.540Coordinates: 47°00′07″N 120°32′24″W / 47.002°N 120.540°W / 47.002; -120.540
CampusRural college town
380 acres (150 ha)
Colors    Crimson, Black, Sable
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division II
MascotWellington P. Wildcat
Central Washington University logo.svg

Central Washington University (CWU) is a public university in Ellensburg, Washington. Founded in 1891, the university consists of four divisions: the President's Division, Business and Financial Affairs, Operations, and Academic and Student Life (ASL). Within ASL are four colleges: the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Business (Ellensburg campus and University Centers in the Puget Sound and central regions),[3] the College of Education and Professional Studies, and College of the Sciences. CWU is considered an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution and 15 percent of its students are Hispanic.[4]


In 1890, the state Legislature established the Washington State Normal School (WSNS) in Ellensburg for "the training and education of teachers in the art of instructing and governing in the public schools of this state."[5] WSNS opened on September 6, 1891, with its first classes held at the Washington Public School in Ellensburg.[6] In 1893, the school's first building was constructed and named Barge Hall, in honor of the first WSNS principal, Benjamin Franklin Barge. Barge Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

In subsequent years, the university constructed additional campus buildings to accommodate a growing student body including: Kamola Hall (1911); Smyser Hall (1925); Munson Hall (1926); Sue Lombard Hall (1926); and McConnell Auditorium (1935). While Barge Hall's architecture reflected a Richardsonian Romanesque style, the designs of later buildings incorporated elements of proto-Modernism, along with Spanish Colonial Revival, Neo-Classical and Classical Revival styles.[7] In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as academic programs expanded, construction of new buildings took place: the Science Building I (1997); Black Hall (1998); the Student Union and Recreation Center (2006); Jerilyn McIntyre Music Education Facility (2007); Wendell Hill Hall and Mechanical Building (2008), Barto Hall (2012), Science Building II (2016), and the Samuelson STEM Center (2018).

Name and expansion of programs

In 1937, the Washington Legislature authorized a name change to Central Washington College of Education. In 1961, reflecting that the curriculum had expanded into new areas of study in addition to teacher education, the school's name was changed to Central Washington State College. With addition of graduate programs and curricula, it became Central Washington University in 1977.

Residential campus

The residential campus location has multiple residence halls, surrounding the Student Union and Recreation Center, and clustered in four different areas. The STEM and teaching facilities are located near the administrative buildings, which include Black Hall, Bouillon Hall, and the Science Building near Dean Hall (see map on right).

360° panorama of a portion of the Central Washington University campus as seen on an August afternoon. Taken at the southwest corner of campus, buildings, from left to right: Mitchell Hall, housing the school's registrar and general admissions staff; McConnell Hall and auditorium, home of the Theatre Arts department; Barge Hall, financial and administrative center of campus; and Shaw-Smyser Hall, the primary building for the College of Business.
Barge Hall, Central Washington University
Barge Hall, Central Washington University
Map of Central Washington University as provided on website.
Map of Central Washington University as provided on website.

Administrative buildings

Barge Hall and Mitchell Hall are where the primary administrative staff are located. Admissions, Running Start, a Cashiers Office, the Registrar, and financial aid are all located in this area. This region is bounded by Samuelson Hall and the residential Kamola Hall and Sue Lombard Hall.[8]

Student Union and Recreation Center

On April 26, 2006, the school opened the $58 million Student Union and Recreation Center. The Student Union and Recreation Center is home to a full-sized rock-climbing wall, fully equipped gymnasium, and an outdoor recreation office that rents sports equipment.

CWU University Centers

In addition to the residential campus in Ellensburg, Central Washington University has multiple locations around the state of Washington.



Main article: Central Washington Wildcats

CWU students, alumni, and varsity athletes are known as the "Wildcats" and their colors are crimson and black.[10] CWU is part of NCAA Division II and is part of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.[10] However, the men's and women's rugby teams are NCAA Division I and are usually nationally ranked.

Seasonal order of Wildcats sports
Fall Winter Spring
Men's Football, Cross Country, Rugby Basketball Baseball, Rugby, Track & Field
Women's Soccer, Cross Country, Rugby, Volleyball Basketball Softball, Rugby, Track & Field

Notable alumni

Main article: List of Central Washington University people


  1. ^ "Best Colleges 2014 – Central Washington University". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Central Washington University". College Navigator. U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences.
  3. ^ Supply Chain Management – BS & Certificate Programs
  4. ^ Redinger, Jade (September 28, 2015). "Yakima Valley Community College and Central Washington University receive a $3.25 million federal grant to support enrollment and transfer". KVEW-TV. Retrieved August 31, 2016.
  5. ^ Mohler, Samuel M (1967). The First 75 Years: A History of Central Washington State College (PDF). Spokane, WA: Central Washington State College. pp. 5–6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-09-09. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  6. ^ Mohler 1967, pp. 12
  7. ^ Walton, Lauren. "Building a History: Evaluation of Central Washington University Campus Buildings to Determine Eligibility for Listing on the National Register of Historic Places". James L. Brooks Library Scholarworks. Central Washington University. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Student Accounts | Contact Us". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  9. ^ "About CWU | CWU Campus Locations". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  10. ^ a b "Central Washington University". NCAA. Retrieved 28 October 2012.