Central Washington University, or CWU, is a regional, comprehensive public university located on a 380-acre campus in Ellensburg in the US state of Washington. Founded in 1891, the university consists of three chief divisions include the Office of the President, Business and Financial Affairs, and Academic and Student Life (ASL). Within ASL are four colleges: the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Business (Ellensburg campus and centers in the Puget Sound and central regions), the College of Education and Professional Studies, and College of the Sciences.
CWU is located about 110 miles (180 km) east of Seattle, Washington on Interstate 90 in the Kittitas Valley. In addition to being the fastest growing public university in the state of Washington, CWU is considered an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution with 15 percent Hispanic students.
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.”  WSNS originally opened on September 6, 1891, with classes held at the Washington Public School in Ellensburg. 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 Richardson Romanesque style, the designs of later buildings incorporated elements of proto-Modernism along with Spanish Colonial Revival, Neo-Classical and Classical Revival styles. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, as academic programs expanded, CWU saw construction of the Science Building I (1997); Black Hall (1998); the Student Union and Recreation Center (2006); Jerrilyn McIntire Music Education Facility (2007); Wendell Hill Hall and Mechanical Building (2008), Barto Hall (2012), Science Building II (2016), and the Samuelson STEM Center (2018).
In 1937, the Washington Legislature authorized a name change to Central Washington College of Education. Reflecting the fact that the curriculum had expanded into areas of study in addition to teacher education, the school’s name was changed to Central Washington State College in 1961. It became Central Washington University in 1977.
The on-campus location is established by a small residence hall, surrounded by the Student Union and Recreation Center and humanity facilities. 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).
Barge Hall and Mitchell Hall are where the primary administrative faculty 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 living spaces Kamola Hall and Sue Lombard Hall.
On April 26, 2006, the school opened a $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, which rents everything from rafts, to snowshoes and ice axes.
In addition to the residential campus in Ellensburg, Central Washington University has multiple locations around the state of Washington.
CWU students, alumni, and varsity athletes are known as the "Wildcats" and their colors are crimson and black. CWU is part of NCAA Division II and is part of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
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