Central’s next president will be A. James Wohlpart, who currently serves as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and was interim president at UNI from July 2016 to January 2017.
Wohlpart assumes his new position on June 7, 2021.
“I am deeply honored to be selected as the 15th president of Central Washington University,” Wohlpart said. “President James Gaudino leaves CWU a strong and diverse institution and I am excited to carry that legacy forward.”
Wohlpart, who has more than 25 years of experience in higher education, said he was attracted to Central because of its commitment to inclusion and diversity, its record of supporting sustainability, and the value it places on transparency and shared governance.
“CWU, with its strong faculty, high quality academic programs, and innovative and caring staff, has the potential, and I would even say the responsibility, to lead the way in forging a new vision for higher education,” he continued.
CWU Board of Trustees Chair Ron Erickson said the board was impressed by Wohlpart’s longstanding belief in the transformative power of education and the role Central can play in creating and providing educational opportunities for all students regardless of their background or economic status.
Erickson added that Wohlpart’s broad experience in a wide variety of university administrative areas, including in enrollment initiatives, serving place-bound students, engaging community college partners, and in fundraising set him apart from other candidates.
“He has been an effective and successful leader wherever he has worked,” Erickson said. “He understands and is committed to Central’s core mission of educational opportunity and elevating student success through experiential learning and academic excellence.”
Wohlpart said his goal is to build an engaged community that embraces multiple perspectives and backgrounds, and works together to become a model for other institutions of higher education.
“As we work together to shape our future-oriented vision, I will invite everyone in the community to become a leader in place, to lead from the places where you are, while always recognizing that you are part of a larger community,” he said. “It will be an opportunity to expand our capacities to see within ourselves the gifts and talents we have to offer the world in service of a larger purpose.”
Wohlpart added that he has a “deep and abiding” interest in sustainability, noting much of his teaching and research has focused on issues of the environment from a humanities perspective. He said his priorities will include looking at ways to reduce the institution’s carbon footprint and advancing the social, cultural, and economic components of sustainability.
The new president said he has already experienced the welcoming nature of the Wildcat community. He and his wife, Sasha, look forward to meeting students, faculty, and staff hopefully “face-to-face in the not-so-distant future.”
“I believe that as we develop our vision for the future, we have the opportunity to expand our capacity for open-heartedness to ensure that all whom we welcome into our community truly feels that they belong,” he said. “All of us should be able to bring our whole unique selves to campus and know that those selves will be seen, listened to, and honored.”
• Provost/Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Northern Iowa
• Interim President, University of Northern Iowa
• Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Florida Gulf Coast University
• Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast University
• Chair, Division of Humanities & Arts, Florida Gulf Coast University
• PhD English, University of Tennessee
• MA English, Colorado State University
• BA English and Philosophy, University of Tennessee