First Lady Keeps CWU Close to Her Heart

First Lady Keeps CWU Close to Her Heart


Katie Gaudino hasn’t been in the spotlight as much as her husband over the past 12 years, but CWU’s first lady almost always has been nearby.

From President Gaudino’s first day on the job in 2009 to his final commencement speech, his wife of nearly 40 years has been by his side.

“My role has always been helping share the good news coming out of CWU with everyone I greet or meet,” Katie Gaudino said. “I not only want them to feel welcome; I want them to walk away knowing something positive about CWU that they may not have known before.”

Fortunately for her, opportunities to share the university’s success stories were abundant and frequent. Over the years, she has had the opportunity to interact with thousands of Central students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents across the region.

By joining her husband to host dozens of new-student welcome receptions, alumni dinners, and holiday gatherings at University House, the Gaudinos have demonstrated first-hand how friendly and welcoming CWU is. Even more gratifying is when people remember the impact those events had on their lives.

“When we travel, Jim still gets recognized in public by parents who approach him to offer their heartfelt thanks for that session on the lawn,” she said. “That always makes me smile.”

The popularity of University House events led the Gaudinos to start hosting regular student dinners, allowing them to interact with young people on campus and learn how the university administration could help them achieve their goals.

“(The dinners) helped give us both a deeper understanding of what needed more focus and how to be better advocates for their needs as they define them,” Gaudino said. The dinners expanded to include faculty members, classified staff, and other groups on campus.

“We found this one-on-one time with the everyday CWU stakeholders to be some of the most helpful conversations we were able to have,” she said.

Spending time with alumni over the years—at sporting events, award ceremonies, and fundraising efforts—also helped paint an exemplary picture of the university in Gaudino’s mind.

“CWU alumni are simply some of the best people I’ve ever known,” she said.

A number of things have changed for the Gaudinos since they joined the CWU family in 2009. They’re grandparents now, and they are ready for their next adventure.

But before they go, Katie Gaudino wants everyone in the CWU and Ellensburg communities to know how much she and her husband appreciate their willingness to learn and grow with them over the past 12 years.

Most of all, she hopes people will remember President Gaudino for his commitment to improve the lives of Central students.

“I think his commitment to students will be his legacy,” she said. “I know he certainly approached his everyday actions and decisions focused on how to make every student’s journey through CWU a richer, more valuable experience. He always put students first, for without them, there would be no call to do anything else.”

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