Central Washington University, or CWU, is a publicly assisted university in Ellensburg, Washington in the United States. The university's 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, 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 Kittitas Valley.
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.
The school became Central Washington College of Education in 1937, Central Washington State College in 1961, and, finally, Central Washington University in 1977. It continues to be one of the fastest growing universities in 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.
The Wildcats won the Division 2 NAIA Football National Championship in 1995.
In 2008, Wildcat softball players Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace helped carry injured opponent Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University around the bases after she hit her first-ever career home run and injured herself running around the bases. CWU lost the game, ending the Wildcats' season. The story received national attention and the trio appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, CBS, CNN, and ESPN. They also won an ESPY award for Best Moment in Sports in 2008, were featured in Sports Illustrated, and are part of a national billboard campaign promoting sportsmanship by the Foundation for A Better Life.
The football garnered much attention as being one of the most successful NCAA Division II teams in the northwest. In 2006, they moved to the North Central Conference, because the Great Northwest Athletic Conference announced it would discontinue its participation in football following the 2005 season. The football team shares an intense rivalry with Western Washington University (who will also be joining the NCC in 2006). Recently,[when?] the team has been competing in a game called the Battle in Seattle taking place at Seattle's CenturyLink Field before the even more traditional Cascade Cup game, although because of conference scheduling the two games were combined starting 2006. In 2008, The Great Northwest Athletic Conference reinstated football, and Central Washington along with Western Washington rejoined the conference, so the previous format of the Battle in Seattle being played at CenturyLink Field and the Cascade Cup was contested in Ellensburg. In 2009, Western Washington University disbanded its football team. In 2009, Central Washington University posted a perfect 11-0 record, the only Division II team to post a clean slate in 2009 regular season. Central Washington then lost to the Bearcats of Northwest Missouri State, who were the eventual NCAA Division II champions.
Of the variety of club sports offered by Central, the men's rugby team has been particularly successful. CWU established the men's rugby team in 1972. The rugby team plays and regularly defeats far larger universities, such as, the University of Washington, Washington State University, University of Oregon, and Oregon State University. Rugby at Central has been quite successful against these and other larger schools. The Wildcats played in the College Premier Division until 2013, but in 2013 moved to the Varsity Cup competition, and finished the season ranked sixth in the country.
Rugby has gained the Wildcats national recognition due to its high level of success in the national playoffs. Their most impressive accomplishments include making the Sweet 16 in 1998 and 2001. In 2001, Central defeated North Carolina 52-17 in their Sweet 16 match, before losing to Penn State 14-12 in the Elite 8 (Penn State went on to play in the championship match). In 2007, the men's rugby team was ranked as high as 10th in the nation. Central finished the 2010-11 season ranked 7th in the nation, and finished the 2012-13 season ranked 6th.
The Wildcats have also been successful in rugby sevens. The Wildcats won the 2011 Las Vegas Invitational to qualify for the 2011 Collegiate Rugby Championship. The Wildcats gained national attention for their rugby program when, led by Tim Stanfill, they finished fourth at the 2011 Collegiate Rugby Championship, a tournament broadcast live on NBC. That same year CWU Rugby finished 2nd (losing in overtime) at the USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships. Tim Stanfill was voted MVP of the 2012 Tournament and a member of the All-Tournament Team along with Forward Patrick Blair. Central Washington won the 2012 Northwest 7s tournament to qualify for the 2012 USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships. The Wildcats also played in the 2013 USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships, reaching the semifinals.
In 2012 CWU Rugby's Head 7's Coach and 15's Head Attack Coach Tony Pacheco was named as the Head Coach for the Collegiate All-Americans 7's program. Pacheco, a product of CWU Rugby (Class of '03), selected two CWU Rugby players, Tim Stanfill and Patrick Blair, as Collegiate All-Americans, joining Scott Anderson (Class of '99) in obtaining All American status as members of CWU Rugby.
The following are some notable former Wildcats:
Student Union and Recreation Center
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.