To truly appreciate the Heritage story, you have to visualize the evolution of this physical campus from temporary structures, Quonset huts, and one old school building into a handsome campus with a showcase science building. Look at the financial model and remember that even though the annual tuition at Heritage University is low, rarely can a Heritage student pay it. After Pell grants and state need-based grants, the remaining gap is covered by our philanthropic family.
Given the demographic changes in America in this century there is no way that the United States can maintain economic or political excellence without educating to a high level the very kinds of populations that Heritage was established to serve; and in the process Heritage must also serve as an inspiration to others around the country to seek the same goal.
Heritage has a strong sense of its mission to prepare excellent educators for the Yakima Valley and other parts of Washington and its mission to give people in the Valley, particularly those among the least privileged, opportunities to achieve their full potential through student-centered higher education.
Heritage has many successes:
- Graduates who have gone on, in many cases from poverty, to successful careers and rewarding lives.
- A mission that has captured national attention and respect.
- Current institutional stability that provides a platform on which to invest in and build long-term excellence.
Heritage has a strong sense of its mission to prepare excellent educators for the Yakima Valley and other parts of Washington. To do so, the University draws on several diverse traditions – its Yakama and indigenous heritage, its Catholic roots from Fort Wright, its deep Hispanic involvement, its strong commitment to social justice and the strengths and resources of this splendid valley with its economic bases in agriculture, business, fisheries and forestry. Therefore, Heritage University believes its mission includes a commitment to improving the economy and the quality of life in our region. At the same time, growth of our regional programs, because of healthy partnerships in Tri-Cities, Seattle, Moses Lake, and Yakima, have made a Heritage education and Heritage involvement a reality elsewhere in Washington.
Long-term economic and academic viability requires Heritage to make itself the college of choice for many qualified recent high school graduates. But Heritage must always be a place where adult students in Washington can follow their dream. Heritage is committed to making the American Dream possible for the least privileged of any age, if they are qualified and willing to work hard.
Heritage will always be the right place for many graduates of Washington’s community colleges. They, moreover, have proven themselves academically before arriving and overwhelmingly graduate from Heritage on time. What we will do is build deeper ties to our community-college partners so that a future Heritage student may begin planning on that transition and on the Heritage identify long before transferring.
Heritage University strongly believes that a liberal education, with a core in the basic arts and sciences, is important to people seeking rewarding careers, meaningful lives, and a future with options in a rapidly changing world. That commitment will not change. At the same time, Heritage students tend to be people who need to think very much about what that first job out of college will be. They need the confidence that their college education can qualify them for a good entry-level position. Heritage, however, also educates them to be able to advance to their second and third positions. An over concern with hands-on vocational training will not do that.
Heritage University is known for:
- Strong advising of students from the time they seek admission, through matriculation and academic progress, and into career planning and placement as they move out into productive lives.
- Connecting a rigorous liberal education with effective practice and educational dimensions that help students understand how to solve problems and address challenges in the outside world.
- Developing the so-called “soft skills” that make the different between success and failure.
- Students’ engagement with their community and their global perspective, which complements the multicultural perspective so natural in the valley.
The future will include significant dimensions of on-line and distance-education even while Heritage remains a student-centered institution built on relationships and personal growth.
While our home campus is here in Toppenish, Heritage offers programs – graduate and undergraduate – at several other sites. These often are built on healthy partnerships such as the one between Heritage and Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake. We have watched the Tri-Cities campus in Pasco, built on a partnership with Columbia Basin College, grow in leaps and bounds, and I believe the potential of that collaboration is only beginning to be appreciated. Over the next five years I expect several new curricula to be developed there. The programs in Seattle and Yakima also have growth potential as Heritage aims to address un-met educational needs in the state.
So during my time at Heritage my primary goal will be to build a “Culture of Success” in which every student we admit will intend to graduate and with few exceptions will graduate. The faculty will set high bars for students to get over and provide support for them to succeed. Current students will define that culture, and they will help initiate new freshmen and transfer students into the values of their college. Current faculty will also define that culture, and they will initiate new colleagues into the high standards of teaching and intellectual leadership expected.
We will continue to provide state-wide leadership in K-12 education, and we will play a significant role in economic development in our region – through education and workforce development, as well as through collaborative research projects often involving students as well as faculty. We will also tell our story better in print, on the web, through social media, and by word of mouth. We will carry Sister Kathleen’s successes in fund-raising to a new level, for a University built on the Heritage model will always depend on philanthropy. We will also reach out to and organize our own alumni, now over five thousand strong, because they are often our best spokesmen and their stores are our best cases in point.
Excerpts taken from Dr. John Bassett’s Inauguration Address – 11/13/2010