Majoring in Retirement
Farewell to Rick Gagnier and Bertha Ortega
Heritage University wished a fond farewell to two longtime administrators who retired this year—former Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Supportive Services Rick Gagnier and Bertha Ortega, one of the founding administrators.
In January, friends and colleagues came together to congratulate Gagnier on his retirement after 12 years with Heritage. Gagnier joined Heritage in 2002, after having worked more than 20 years for the Yakima School District. He served as Heritage's CFO and vice president for eleven years and was the special assistant to the president on capital projects during his last year. Gagnier’s tenure at Heritage included overseeing the expansion of the university’s campus with the construction of the Arts and Sciences Center and the Alder Building, as well as the development of a long-term campus plan and the formation of a solid information technology backbone.
“The solid financial footing that Heritage enjoys today is, in large part, due to Rick’s expertise, care and commitment,” said President John Bassett. “We truly are the better because of his service to the university.”
At his retirement celebration, Rick fought back tears as he praised his Heritage coworkers. “I’ve never worked for a more caring, more compassionate organization, for people who are really committed to the mission of the university. It was such a breath of fresh air, coming out of my most recent K-12 experience, that it was just a joy to come to work.”
In February, Bertha Ortega retired from Heritage after 32 years of service. Along with helping found the university, she served as dean of students for 15 years and held a variety of other positions, including assistant vice president of academic affairs and chair of general studies in the College of Arts & Sciences. Ortega is well known in the Yakima Valley and beyond, having served on the board of directors for numerous organizations, including the Northwest Learning and Achievement Group, Eastern Washington University, Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Yakima and the Central Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“Heritage was little more than an idea when Bertha joined the university,” said Bassett. “She is one of our most passionate advocates for students and is committed to their success, not just for them, but for the betterment of our community as well.”
Congratulations, Rick and Bertha, on your retirements. You both will be missed!