In Their Own Words . . .

In Their Own Words . . .


During his tenure, President Gaudino established himself as a “man of the people.” From his interactions with prominent figures around the state, region, and country, to others who are behind the scenes, CWU’s 14th president has left a lasting impression.

Kim Dawson, executive assistant to the president and the CWU Board of Trustees:

“It has been great working with Jim. Not only did he help us streamline many processes in the office and upgrade technology, he also provided us with our daily dose of D&M Coffee and the occasional cappuccino—that he would make. Our office discussions of ‘The Big Lebowski’ and the banter regarding the Seahawks vs. the 49ers were always a highlight. All teasing aside, Jim is a very supportive person and is totally committed to CWU.”

Dr. Delores “Kandee” Cleary, vice president of diversity and inclusivity:

“As a member of the Cabinet, I have had the pleasure of working closely with President Gaudino for many years. His commitment to improving the lives of minoritized students, faculty and staff at Central Washington University is commendable, sincere and genuine. He has the ability to look beyond current concerns and issues to see what we need to do now to ensure that our CWU community is one characterized by belonging. I will always value his mentorship, commitment to equity, and friendship.”

Elvin Delgado, chair, CWU Faculty Senate

“As a member of the Faculty Senate leadership, I have had the pleasure of working with President Gaudino. He is a person with vision and boundless enthusiasm, who is open to new ideas and always focusing on the best ways that we can work together to improve the university.”

Dave Haglund, commissioner, Great Northwest Athletic Conference:

“Jim Gaudino made an enormous difference at Central, and he was a difference-maker for the GNAC as well. Always willing to offer assistance or provide counsel, he understood the value of intercollegiate athletics at the campus, conference, and national levels. Thousands of student-athletes across the conference footprint benefited from his expertise and good judgment. Everybody knows Jim as a big fan; count me as one of his biggest.”

Robert Nellams, director, Seattle Center, vice chair, CWU Board of Trustees:

“As a member of the Board of Trustees, I’ve had an opportunity to work closely with President Gaudino for the past several years. I think what has impressed me most during that time is how genuine he is. He is authentically curious about things and truly cares about the people at Central. He showed it to me when he first came to talk about Central years ago and continues to show it every day he walks across campus, stopping to talk to everyone from the groundskeeper to a student reading a book, asking ‘How’s your day going?’ He has been an inspiration to me and all of the Trustees and I am honored to call him my friend.”

Don Sodergren, retired custodian, Barge Hall, CWU:

“I absolutely love that guy. He, obviously, was the boss, but I always wanted to be his friend. I enjoyed interacting with him very much—and he always listened. He had empathy for the people he worked with and around; it didn’t matter what you did. It didn’t matter if you were the custodian, a student, or the president of a company, he treated everyone the same. That’s the quality of a true leader.”

Bruce Tabb, mayor, City of Ellensburg:

“Jim arrived in this community holding the belief that the university and the city of Ellensburg were irrevocably linked. That linkage was mutually beneficial. He acted on that belief by building and supporting concrete interactions and ongoing communication at the administrative, staff, and educational levels. That investment has built a strong town-gown relationship that can only benefit us all as we move into the future.”

Lindsey Wiesnewski, sports journalist, NBC Sports Northwest:

“I was serving at Suncadia when the president and CWU Board of Trustees were dining and meeting about business matters. Dr. Gaudino and the board called the servers back to their table and asked what we were studying at CWU. I explained that I wasn’t enrolled, as I could not afford to pay out-of-state tuition and was saving to go back to school. ‘We’ll fix that,’ he said. He gave me his business card and told me to send an email and the school would find a way for me to attend. Dr. Gaudino came through. The school offered me a scholarship and helped me apply for a WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) waiver to knock down my tuition costs. At CWU, I found my passion for journalism. Without his generosity, and being at the right place at the right time, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

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