Central Washington University

Central Washington University

Central Washington University ("CWU") is one of the state's fastest growing universities. It presently has a total enrollment of nearly 11,000 students. CWU was established in 1891 in Ellensburg as Washington State Normal School to educate future elementary and junior high teachers. In 1937, the school’s name changed to Central Washington College, then Central Washington State College in 1961, before finally settling on Central Washington University in 1977. CWU has a large, attractive main campus located in the northeastern part of the city. CWU has grown to include branch campuses on the western side of the state in the cities of Edmonds, Des Moines, and one in Pierce County. CWU also has centers in Moses Lake, Wenatchee and Yakima.

CWU operates the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, one of two of its kind in the world. The Institute was home to the chimpanzee Washoe from 1980 until 2007. Washoe is believed to be the first nonhuman to acquire human language ability. Washoe was able to communicate with people by using American Sign Language.


CWU's mascot is the "Wildcats" and the school colors are Crimson and Black. CWU participates in NCAA Division II athletics and is part of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, except in football where it participates in the . In 1995, led by future National Football League Quarterback Jon Kitna, CWU won the NAIA Division II Football National Championship. The men's and women's swim teams have won a combined six National Championships. Unfortunately the school eliminated the swimming and wresting programs in 2004 in a move to save money.

CWU Campus

Famous CWU Alumni include Craig T. Nelson, an actor who starred in the sitcom Coach; Keith Gilbertson, an NCAA football coach; Ron Sims, the current Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Roland "Sandy" Wheeler, inventor of the "Bowflex" exercise equipment in the 1980s who later went on to acquire Stairmaster, Schwinn Fitness and Nautilus.

For more information, go to Central Washington University's website.