Central Washington University In The News

March 1, 2011
American League Central
by Ken Lund

Central Washington University (“CWU”) is a public university located in Ellensburg, Washington. It has a total present enrollment of about 8,000 students and is one of state’s fastest growing universities. Ellensburg is situated in the Kittitas Valley, 35 miles north of Yakima, and 108 miles southeast of Seattle. The University was established in 1891 in Ellensburg as Washington State Normal School. It took its current name in 1977.

CWU has been in the regional and national news on several occasions. Serial killer Ted Bundy came to the campus from the Seattle area in Area of 1974. He abducted student Susan Rancourt from campus, luring her into his Volkswagen Beetle by asking her to help him load his books. Ms. Rancourt was never seen again. Two other CWU students reported meeting a man with his arm in a sling asking for their help to carry a load of books to a Volkswagen Beetle.

On a much more positive note, CWU is also known for operating the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute, one of two of its kind in the world. From 1980 through 2007, the chimpanzee “Washoe” lived at the Institute. Washoe was able to communicate with people via American Sign Language. Washoe is believed to be the first nonhuman to acquire human language ability.

In 2008, CWU’s women’s softball team received national recognition. When an opponent injured herself while rounding the bases after hitting a home run, Wildcat players Liz Wallace and Mallory Holtman helped carry their opponent around the basis. The trio subsequently appeared on CNN, CBS, the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and were part of a national billboard campaign promoting sportsmanship paid for by the Foundation For A Better Life. The softball team won the 2008 ESPN ESPY award for Best Moment in Sports.

CWU has numerous famous alumni including and Roland “Sandy” Wheeler, whom invented the “Bowflex” exercise equipment in the 1980s; Craig T. Nelson, an actor who has appeared in more than twenty movies and starred in the sitcom “Coach”; Keith Gilbertson, a college and professional football coach; Ron Sims, the current Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and former National Football League Quarterback Jon Kitna, who helped guide CWU to the 1995 NAIA Division II Football National Championship.

Central Washington University is a great place to go to college. Learn more about the school and the Ellensburg, Washington area at http://www.EllensburgWa.net.

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