Friday, October 21, 2011

Re: James Gaudino Bonus and general concerns regarding the direction of Central Washington University

Dear Members of the Board:

I write today in my capacity as a very concerned citizen of Kittitas County, a community member who somewhat to her own surprise has grown deeply to care about what happens on the Central Washington University campus during the past few years, and as a lawyer who from time to time assists persons who are within the potential donor pool for charitable bequests to the University. 

Despite carefully evaluating the information available publicly, I find myself increasingly disturbed by what I perceive is a lack of foresight by the board in awarding such a large incentive package to Mr. Gaudino which does not appear to actually be tied to performance benchmarks and reflects what might be described as a thinly veiled opportunism by Mr. Gaudino, who most likely knew his compensation is out of line with his peers in Washington State. Unfortunately for the University, I am not alone in my concerns. 

I have heard other normally circumspect business people in the community make comments which I won’t repeat here indicating that they believe the Board of Trustees has made a serious mistake in this matter and that they do not know what is now “going on” at CWU.  I have heard from university employees that they are afraid to speak out about waste that they see for fear that they will face retribution.  I have read the same.  I have read that there are concerns among student leaders that the Board of Trustees may have diverted funds that are to be used for students, or at minimum diverting funds from students that have always been used for students not just at this university, but at the State’s flagship university, the University of Washington.  There is also a rumor that the faculty is taking a vote of no confidence in President Gaudino.

In short, I wish to emphasize that I believe you have done significant long term damage to Central Washington University’s reputation in your potential donor community and among other stakeholders here locally due to this ill thought out bonus plan.  I would strongly suggest that you seriously consider modifying your contract with Mr. Gaudino and or consider appointing an acting president in his stead, as I suspect his ability to lead in these troubled times will be substantially diminished due to this avoidable controversy despite his considerable public relations skills.   


Theresa Petrey