Heritage University professor co-authors second book on dealing with water crisis in South America

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Heritage University professor co-authors second book on dealing with water crisis in South America

Alex Alexiades

Alex Alexiades, Ph.D. holds the two books he’s co-authored on dealing with water crisis in South America.

Toppenish, Wash. – A new, one-of-a-kind book written to be a resource for Indigenous communities and leaders, natural resource managers and government organizations in protecting freshwater rivers in the tropical Andes and Amazon has been co-authored by Heritage University Associate Professor Alex Alexiades, PhD.  Los ríos de las cuencas Andino-Amazónicas (Rivers of the Andean-Amazonian Basins) was co-authored by Alexiades and collaborators to help communities worldwide protect their water from pollution. It is being published in Spanish by the Universidad San Francisco de Quito Press located in Ecuador.

Dr. Alexiades says a recent World Economic Forum Global Risks Report ranked the water crisis as one of the five most important potential threats to worldwide economic and social stability. “The water supply in many regions is becoming scarce as demand exceeds supply while contamination increases. Since 1971, this combination has resulted in more than 80% of freshwater species to dwindle in numbers, or become extinct,” he said. “Because of this alarming threat, it’s more important than ever to help communities understand, monitor and protect their freshwater resources. Los ríos de las cuencas Andino-Amazónicas will enable communities to make better resource management and conservation decisions.”

The work by Alexiades and his partners has received financial support from the Latin American Water Fund Alliance, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the National Science Foundation. The Nature Conservancy and several other agencies collaborated with the authors on Los ríos de las cuencas Andino-Amazónicas for its work to improve water quality in the Andean-Amazon region for both the people and the environment.

Los ríos de las cuencas Andino-Amazónicas is the second book on an environmental crisis authored by Dr. Alexiades and his colleagues. Their first book, Nuestro Vivir En La Amazonía Ecuatoriana: Entre La Finca Y El Petróleo (Our Life in the Ecuadorian Amazon: Caught Between Petroleum and Agriculture), came out in 2018 and detailed the struggles of local indigenous and mestizo communities and their environment as they faced increasing threats from mining, petroleum.

For more information contact Alex Alexiades at (509) 865-0732 or alexiades_a@heritage.edu. To schedule an interview with Alexiades, please contact David Mance at (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

 

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Heritage University to host Interfaith Brunch and Prayer Service

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Heritage University to host Interfaith Prayer Brunch and Service for Yakima Valley faith leaders

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University will host faith leaders from throughout the Yakima Valley for an Interfaith Brunch and Prayer Service on Monday, November 18, 2019. The first part of the event, which begins at 10:30 a.m., is a brunch where spiritual leaders will gather to share a meal, learn about Heritage, and explore the ways various spiritual traditions support students, faculty, and staff at Heritage.

The Interfaith Prayer Service, immediately following at noon, will have faith leaders who represent diverse spiritual traditions gather in prayer in recognition of the connection our campus community has with the many deep and ancient roots that ground us in the pursuit of higher education at Heritage.

Leaders of all faith communities are invited to attend the Interfaith Brunch and Prayer Service, which will be held in Smith Family Hall located in the Arts and Sciences Center at Heritage University. The event begins the observance of Spirituality Week at Heritage. For more information, please contact David Hacker at hacker_d@heritage.edu.

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Heritage University honors Yakama Nation tribal elders as highlight of Native American Heritage Month Celebrations

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Heritage University honors Yakama Nation tribal elders as highlight of Native American Heritage Month celebrations

Toppenish, Wash. – November is Native American Heritage Month, and Heritage University is celebrating by honoring four Yakama Nation elders for their lifetime contributions to the Yakama people and their community. This year’s recipients are Corky Ambrose Jerry Meninick, Phyllis Strom, and Patsy Whitefoot.

CORKY AMBROSE served in the US Air Force, and after returning to civilian life, he spent the next 40 years protecting natural resources of the Yakama Nation as a forester and then as a woodland firefighter. He supports fellow veterans and serves the community through the Yakama Warriors Association, an organization he helped found in 1992.

JERRY MENINICK is passionate about helping the people of the Yakama Nation thrive through the preservation and practice of their cultural history.  It grew into a profession when he started collecting elders’ stories about the Columbia River for a preservation project with the US Forest Service, and into a passion when he was elected to Tribal Council and later became Chairman.

PHYLLIS STROM spent most of her years looking out for the welfare of her people of the Yakama Nation. A bookkeeper by training, she spent 35 years safeguarding the strength and sustainability of many tribal programs. Additionally, she sought new funding sources to provide additional services to the Department of Natural Resources, Human Services and Law Enforcement, while continuing to ensure services to manpower and career enhancement programs to assist Native Americans in becoming self-sufficient and build careers to sustain their livelihood.

PATSY WHITEFOOT is not afraid of confronting injustices. She’s spent a lifetime fighting for the rights of Native peoples everywhere. She’s been a strong voice for change at the state and national levels calling for improved access to educational opportunities from preschool through college for Native American students. President Obama appointed her to serve on his National Advisory Council on Indian Education. She’s brought attention to the need for improved mental health and addiction services for Native Americans and is a leader in the movement to draw attention to the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women both on the Yakama homelands and across the nation.

The four elders are being recognized during the fifth annual Honoring Our Elders ceremony at Heritage University on Friday, November 8, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. This event is by invitation only. Also, their stories are featured in a series of full-page ads, each dedicated to a specific elder, that are running in the Yakama Nation Review throughout November.  Framed copies of these ads are being added to the permanent display of honorees at the university in the Violet Lumley Rau Center.

Heritage is holding many other events in November in observance of Native American Heritage Month as designated by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. These include:

Friday, November 8, 2019, 9:30 a.m. – Flag-raising Ceremony

Heritage University will raise the flags of the Yakama Nation, the state of Washington and the United States during a ceremony featuring the Yakama Warriors. The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be held at the main campus entrance.

November 9-16, 2019 – Rock Your Mocs Week

Heritage University students, faculty and staff are invited to wear moccasins expressing tribal identity between November 9 and 16 as a way to stand together celebrating Indigenous traditions and culture around the world.

Thursday, November 14, 2019, Noon – Native American Wellness through Round Dance

The American Indigenous Business Leaders (AIBL) Chapter of Heritage University will present a Native Round Dance outside the Arts and Sciences Center. A round dance features a group of hand drummers singing traditional songs while people gather around the drummers in a friendship dance. This is called a social dance among Native people.

November 18-22: Spirituality Week

Monday, November 18, 2019, 10:30 a.m. – Interfaith Prayer Brunch

Heritage University will host an Interfaith Prayer Brunch, where spiritual leaders will gather to share a meal, learn about Heritage and explore ways our various spiritual traditions can support our life at Heritage.

Monday, November 18, 2019, Noon – Interfaith Prayer Service

We will host leaders from a diversity of spiritual traditions as we gather in prayer for our week in recognition of the connection we have with the many deep and ancient roots that ground us as we pursue our education at Heritage.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019, 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Community Dinner.

The public is invited to this free dinner which will be held in Smith Family Hall. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with dinner served at 6:00 p.m. The Yakama Nation Native American Full Circle Scholarship students are invited to attend and be recognized at this gathering.

Thursday, November 21, 2019, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. – Indian Horse Movie Screening

Indian Horse is an adaption of Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel, this moving and important drama sheds light on the dark history of Canada’s boarding schools or Indigenous Residential Schools and the indomitable spirit of aboriginal people.

Friday, November 22, 2019, Noon – Closing Blessing in honor of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Join us as we close our week with blessings, smudging, and labyrinth walks in honor of MMIW. We will focus our intention on those who are absent, but are with us in our hears in the sacred circle.

For more information on these events, contact Maxine Janis at (360) 513-2808 or Janis_M@Heritage.edu, Monet Becenti at (509) 865-8547 or Becenti_M@Heritage.edu, or David Mance at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@Heritage.edu, or David Hacker at hacker_d@heritage.edu

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Heritage University to host open house at Columbia Basin College

Heritage University
3240 Fort Road • Toppenish, WA 98948
(509) 865-8500
For more information contact:
David Mance, Media Relations Coordinator
(509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Heritage University to host open house at Columbia Basin College

Toppenish, Wash. – College students in the Tri-Cities can explore different degree offerings to enhance their careers during a Heritage University open house at Columbia Basin College (CBC) in Pasco on November 7, 2019. Representatives of the degree programs as well as financial aid and enrollment specialists from both Heritage and CBC to help prospective students learn more about the transfer process from CBC to Heritage, and receive information about the programs offered at Heritage’s Tri-Cities site. Prospective students will learn more about the programs offered at Heritage’s Tri-Cities site to help and answer questions.

Heritage University offers five programs at CBC for students to turn their associate degree into a bachelor’s, and one program to turn a bachelor’s degree into a master’s. The five undergraduate degrees are criminal justice, elementary education (K-8th grade), psychology, accounting, and social work. People with a bachelor’s degree can obtain a Master in Teaching (MIT) with a K-8 elementary endorsement and the option to add more.

Marisol Rodriguez-Price, the director of the Heritage University office at CBC, said the open-house serves as a one-stop-shop for students wanting to explore options in furthering their education and achieving their career goals. “Not only will people get to meet the chairs of each of the five programs we offer, but our Director of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid will be available to answer their questions and walk them through the process of applying,” said Rodriguez-Price. “Those who attend will see the personalized service and resources we offer to help them earn their bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. Also, students without an AA-DTA can speak with CBC recruiters for information on how to complete transfer requirements.”

The open house will take place at the “B” building at CBC from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact Marisol Rodriguez-Price at (509) 542-5506 or Rodriguez-Price_M@heritage.edu.

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Heritage University receives $5 million federal grant to support STEM students at HU and at Portland State University

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Heritage University awarded $5 million National Science Foundation grant to support STEM students at Heritage and Portland State University

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University has received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support high-achieving, low-income students majoring in STEM fields at Heritage and Portland State University (PSU) in Oregon. The grant will fund a program titled Engagement Achievement and Graduation for Low-incomE Students, or “EAGLES,” and will provide scholarships to cover tuition for at least 116 students in STEM majors, including environmental science, engineering, ecology, chemistry, and biology at both campuses.

EAGLES will accomplish three objectives. The first will be to increase enrollment and retention of low-income and other under-represented groups in STEM fields; the second will be to develop an integrated structure to mentor, advise and engage these students in research and outreach activities focused on community-based challenges associated with environmental pollution; and the third will be to examine the impact of instructional interventions in introductory STEM courses and to fine-tune culturally-responsive learning procedures aimed at developing undergraduate students’ science identity and sense of community. With annual career panels at both Heritage and PSU, additional support services, research experiences, and coursework, EAGLES will not only provide scholarships for biology, environmental science and studies, and chemistry students but will also enhance learning opportunities. EAGLES will fill existing gaps at HU in the STEM pathway by allowing Heritage pre-engineering students to pursue bachelor’s degrees in civil and environmental engineering at PSU and giving them access to PSU career placement services and graduate programs.

Heritage Associate Professor Alexander Alexiades, Ph.D. is the principal investigator along with his counterpart at PSU, Dr. Gwynn Johnson. Alexiades will oversee the EAGLES program at Heritage. He is excited about the STEM opportunities for Heritage students, and for the possibility for the EAGLES model to be used at other campuses across the country.

“The research and service-learning activities conducted by our students will address authentic local and regional issues and strengthen community connections, and these results will demonstrate a model worthy of national replication for increasing enrollment, retention, and graduation in STEM majors and development of the sense of science identity needed in further studies and/or careers in the environmental sciences and engineering.”

Heritage Provost Dr. Kazuhiro Sonoda said this NSF award, when combined with other recent NSF grants (including a $2.5 million announced in June and a $350K grant for research experiences for undergraduates), the university is well-positioned to help STEM students for the next five years. “Heritage University and PSU campuses serve some of the nation’s highest-need students,” said. Sonoda. “These awards make it possible for us to create a comprehensive support system for our STEM students, and I’m very excited about the opportunities these grants will help us bring to them.”

The EAGLES program at HU and PSU will begin in September of this year and run through September 2024. For more information, contact David Mance, media relations coordinator at Heritage University at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@heritage.edu.

 

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Heritage University to host El Grito de Independencia to honor Mexican Independence Day for second year in a row

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Heritage University to host El Grito de Independenciato honor Mexican Independence Day for second year in a row

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University is hosting El Grito de Independencia, a Mexican cultural festival in honor of the Mexican Independence Day for the second year in a row.El Grito de Independencia will take place at the Heritage campus on Saturday, September 14, 2019 from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. El Grito de Independencia commemorates the “Cry of Dolores,” a historical event in Mexico that set off the Mexican War of Independence from Spain and will be reenacted at 7:45 p.m.

The festivalwill have fun for the entire family, including games and piñatas for kids, food and beverages, traditional dancers, mariachis and live music. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Melissa Hill at (509) 865-0411 or Hill_M@Heritage.edu.

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Class Notes – Updates on Heritage University Alumni

1985

Lisa Still (B.A., Business Management) is a volunteer with RESULTS, an organization that advocates for domestic and global poverty issues through face-to-face lobbying with members of Congress as well as through letter-writing campaigns to Congress and the news media. She was part of a recent campaign that successfully lobbied against cuts to food stamps and is now working on housing issues.

1988

Judy Lefors (M.A.Ed., Professional Development) opened Oakridge Montessori School, Inc. in Yakima, Washington after earning her master’s degree from Heritage. The school serves children from 18 months through ninth grade and has been in operation for more than 25 years.

1993

Ken Harper (B.A.Ed., Secondary Education) is an adjunct professor at Northwest Nazarene University and teaches high school and college credit courses in English at Liberty Christian School in Richland, Washington.

1995

Georgia Ramos-Brown (B.S.W., Social Work) retired after working in social work in the Yakima Valley for close to 18 years. Ramos-Brown earned a master’s degree in social work from Walla Walla University after graduating from Heritage. She worked at Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic as an outpatient clinician serving high-risk youth and their families. In addition, she conducted crisis work for Yakima County through the Farm Workers Clinic, where she assessed children and teens who were at risk for suicidal and/or homicidal actions for possible hospitalization for mental health care.

2002

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Kenneth Mitchell (M.Ed., Educational Administration) received the 2019 Crystal Apple Award from the Yakima School District. He is the principal of Ridgeview Elementary School. The award is given annually to educators who use creative and quality instruction approaches, develop a positive learning environment, and advance education in the district.

2005

Leah Smartlowit (B.A.Ed., Elementary Education, M.Ed., Special Education) works as a special education coordinator for the Yakama Nation Tribal School and is a pastor of the Wilderness Full Gospel Church in Wapato, Washington. She is applying for doctoral studies through Abilene Christian University.

2006

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Debbie McLean (M.A.Ed., Professional Development in English as a Second Language) received the 2019 Crystal Apple Award from the Yakima School District. McLean teaches kindergarten at Roosevelt Elementary School. The award is given annually to educators who use creative and quality instruction approaches, develop a positive learning environment, and advance education in the district.

2007

Kristina Rawlins Brown (B.A.Ed., Elementary Education) is the principal of the Dayton School District joint middle and high school. She was hired for this position last July.

2008

Valerie Feth (B.A., English/ Language Arts) earned a master’s degree in instruction and curriculum from Western Governors University.

2009

Edith Diaz (B.A., Business Administration) is certified in disability management. She was recently hired by Advanced Vocational Solutions where she works as a vocational rehabilitation counselor.

2015

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Sarah Cook (M.A. Medical Sciences) earned a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Pacific Northwest University of Medical Sciences and entered into her residency at Central Washington Family Medicine in Yakima, Washington.

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Denice Laws (M.A., Multicultural English Literature and Language) was named Department Chair at New Horizons High School in Pasco, Washington. New Horizons is a trauma-informed school where a growth mindset is taught. In addition, she is the school’s drama club and literary journal advisor.

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Artemio Madrigal (B.A., Business Administration) earned a Master of Organization Leadership from Gonzaga University and a Professional in Human Resources certificate. In 2017 he received both the Community Leader Award from Central Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Mason Role Model Award. Madrigal is involved in numerous organizations, including Yakima Craft Beverage Association, the Central Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Yakima Morelia Sister Cities Association. He recently moved to Seattle and is working as a training and on-boarding consultant for the University of Washington.

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Brooke Steadman (M.A. Medical Sciences) earned a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Pacific Northwest University of Medical Sciences and entered into her residency at Central Washington Family Medicine in Yakima, Washington.

2016

Jessica Sadler (M.A.Ed., Elementary Education) was named the 2019 Washington State Outstanding Young Educator by the Washington ASCD, formerly known as the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Sadler teaches at Leona Libby Middle School in West Richland, Washington. She organized the school’s first science, technology, engineering, arts and math night and is the advisor for the school’s science club and Science Bowl team.

2017

Laura Rebecca Cole (M.I.T., Elementary Education) passed away unexpectedly on October 31, 2018. Cole completed her master’s degree through Heritage’s Tri-Cities regional site. She taught special education at Whittier Elementary School and was an author of 10 fantasy books for young adults. Additionally, she was a craftswoman who enjoyed making soap, leatherworking and art and had a special love of animals and vulnerable people.

Cole is survived by her parents, Thomas and Ellen Cole of Essex Junction, Vermont; by her two sisters and their families (Michelle Connor/Aaron Goodell with their son Brendan Goodell of Essex, Vermont; and Kimberly and Peter Connors of Bothell, Washington); her grandfather Herbert Cole, as well as uncles, aunts, cousins and friends.

The family created a memorial scholarship fund in her name to support the Pasco School District Special Needs Program.

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Virginia Marie Valdovinos (B.S.W., Social Work) earned a Master in Social Work from the University of Southern California in May. She is a part- time faculty member at Yakima Valley College teaching adult basic education courses at their Toppenish and Grandview locations.

Submit Your Class Notes

Did you get married? Have a baby? Get your dream job, an award or even a promotion? If you have good news to share with your fellow alums, let us help.

Send us your submission for Class Notes. It’s easy. Just visit heritage.edu/alumni, complete the submission form and upload your picture. Be sure to include a valid email address so we can contact you if we have any questions.

27 new Eagles coming to Heritage on full-ride scholarships

More than a two dozen of the Yakima Valley’s best and brightest students will be coming to Heritage this fall on full-ride scholarships. The future Eagles are each recipients of one of Heritage’s highly competitive Act Six, HU Soar, Moccasin Lake Foundation, or Sinegal Family Foundation Scholarships.

“I am always impressed by the caliber of students who come from our communities,” said David Wise, vice president for Advancement and Marketing. “We receive hundreds of applications for these scholarships. These students stood out from the crowd. They are all extremely talented, focused on their goals and are truly leaders among their peers. I know we will see great things from each of them.”

Sunnyside High School students who received full-ride scholarships to Heritage pose with their scholarship announcement checks.

This year’s recipients are:

ACT SIX SCHOLARSHIP

Sulem Bernal-Sunnyside High School
Brenda Lustre Cruz-Toppenish High School Andrea Ceja-Toppenish High School
Jesus “Lizbeth” Cervantes-AC Davis High School Isaiah Cisneros-Toppenish High School
Karina Colin Corona-Sunnyside High School Maryedith Dominguez Najera- Grandview High

School
Zahira Flores Gaona- AC Davis High School Miranda Yale- White Swan High School
Juan Carlos Reyes Francisco- Granger High School

HU SOAR SCHOLARSHIP

Abigail Bravo-Sunnyside Christian High School Zuzeth Jimenez- Toppenish High School Guadalupe Iniguez-Toppenish High School Wendy Cruz- AC Davis High School

Anjuli Barragan-Toppenish High School Aiyh Sarama-Sunnyside High School Andrea Tovar Lopez-Sunnyside High School

MOCCASIN LAKE FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP

Elian Coria Brito – Granger High School Heidy Lemus – Sunnyside High School Arely Padilla – West Valley High School Paola Villanueva – Sunnyside High School Alejandra Morales –Heritage University HEP

Program

SINEGAL FAMILY FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP

Jason Grajales-White Swan High School Nansi Iniguez-Toppenish High School Miguel Mendoza-Toppenish High School Kareli Mora-Granger High School Rebecca Gomez-AC Davis High School.

Congratulations to all of our scholarship recipients!

Toppenish High School students who received full-ride scholarships to Heritage pose with their scholarship announcement checks.

Heritage University awarded $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant to increase the number of Hispanic and Native American students in STEM workforce

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Heritage University awarded $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant to increase the number of Hispanic and Native American students in STEM workforce

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University and its partners will use a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) Program for “CRESCENT,” a project to increase the number of Hispanic and Native American students in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce. CRESCENT, which stands for “Culturally Responsive Education in STEM”, will combine innovative strategies for professional development of STEM faculty, STEM curriculum enhancement through institutional partnerships, offering experiential learning to students through hands-on research experiences and community outreach, and development of intensive culturally-responsive student support services to increase the number and diversity of students pursuing higher education in STEM disciplines.

CRESCENT will be led by Heritage University faculty Dr. Jessica Black, the Director of the Center for Indigenous Health, Culture & the Environment and the Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences. The program will incorporate students’ unique cultural strengths in the STEM Student Learning Intervention (SSLI) wrap-around services, combining near-peer mentoring, intensive advising, enhanced tutoring, undergraduate research training, and leadership development activities for engaging and supporting underrepresented minority (URM) students in learning. “We have many talented and driven students in our region who are interested in pursuing STEM careers but can sometimes struggle on their journeys and become discouraged. The CRESCENT program is designed to support these students throughout their pathway from high school to graduate school”, said Black.  “CRESCENT program activities will also empower faculty to develop innovative teaching strategies for instructing our diverse students and prepare the next generation of global citizens with a breadth of knowledge and essential life skills to succeed in the rapidly changing environment of the 21stcentury”.

The CRESCENT program will also investigate factors influencing STEM gatekeepers at the most influential and critical educational transitions that are limiting URM student engagement and advancement into STEM careers, testing innovative models transforming these gatekeepers into positive forces. Other goals include expanding a sustainable collaborative network with regional high schools to increase the pool of URM STEM-prepared first-generation freshmen undergraduate students, increase the number of URM student interested in STEM disciplines, improve the performance and retention of URM STEM students, and increase the number of URM students who pursue graduate studies in STEM disciplines after completion of their undergraduate degrees. The project will generate new knowledge on how to improve the retention and graduation of these students, and the outcomes will be shared with other HSIs seeking to grow their numbers of successful students.

Other HU faculty involved with CRESCENT include Dan Sisk, engineering professor and Dr. David Laman, chemistry professor. Project partners will include Dr. Naidu Rayapati, professor/plant pathologist and Director of the Washington State University Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser, Dr. Rodney Cooper, research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture office in Wapato, and Dr. Matthew Loeser, biology faculty at Yakima Valley College. The CRESCENT program will be funded from September 2019 through August 2024.

For more information contact David Mance at (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

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Seven-year accreditation reaffirmation reflects Heritage University’s commitment to higher education for all

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Seven-year accreditation reaffirmation reflects Heritage University’s commitment to higher education for all

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University President Dr. Andrew Sund announced two recent milestones that demonstrate Heritage University’s commitment to delivering higher education opportunities for all people of the Yakima Valley. The first, the reaffirmation of Heritage University’s accreditation by the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) for another seven years, and the second, the adoption of a board-approved strategic plan for the University’s growth and continuous quality improvement through the year 2022.

Accreditation is a process of recognizing educational institutions for performance, integrity, and quality that entitles them to the confidence of the educational community and the public. Eight accreditation evaluators visited Heritage University for five days in early April to review the institution’s seven-year self-evaluation report. Following their visit, the evaluators commended Heritage in five areas:

  1. The deep commitment of its faculty, staff, and administrators to the mission of the University, which guides them in outstanding support of transformative, student-centered education, developing leaders who embrace social justice and community engagement.
  2. Its dedicated, data-driven efforts to support student access and equity, as exemplified by the summer Math Bridge and English Academy programs that have enabled hundreds of students to advance from developmental to college-level study.
  3. The Center for Intercultural Learning and Teaching’s (CILT) dedication to the delivery of high quality and continuous faculty development in areas of program review and assessment, the use of classroom technology, cultural responsiveness and care of students, and pedagogy that supports academic excellence for all students.
  4. The culture of assessment among its professionally accredited undergraduate and graduate-level majors and programs.
  5. Its Board of Directors for advancing the mission of Heritage University through its strong leadership, engagement, advocacy, philanthropic support, and discerning recruitment of new members to the Board.

In a letter to Dr. Sund reaffirming Heritage University’s accreditation, NWCCU President Sonny Ramaswamy stated “The NWCCU is committed to an accreditation process that adds value to institutions while contributing to public accountability. This action was taken after consideration of the evidence, including the institution’s Self Evaluation Report, the Peer-Evaluation Report, and information received as part of the institutional representative meeting with NWCCU Commissioners.”

Dr. Sund represented Heritage at the NWCCU Commission meeting in Park City, Utah last month at which the Chair of the visiting team officially presented her report to the Commission. “I am happy to report that the commission accepted the report of the visiting team with no additional comments. It is a reflection of our faculty and staff’s ongoing commitment to achieving the Heritage mission and that we meet the Commission’s expectations for complying with the accreditation criteria,” said Dr. Sund. “The accreditation renewal reinforces our conviction in the Heritage mission to empower a multi-cultural and inclusive student body to overcome the social, cultural, economic and geographic barriers that limit access to higher education embracing a transformational student-centered education that cultivates leadership and a commitment to the promotion of a more just society. We will continue to support the initiatives that made the university what it is and develop new programs that are responsive to the needs of students and the Yakima Valley community we serve.”

Recent initiatives demonstrating the University’s commitment to the valley include:

  1. Strengthening the University’s relationship with Yakama Nation: This year instituting the Full Circle Scholarship which allows enrolled members of the Yakama Nation to attend Heritage with no out of pocket expense for tuition.
  2. Reinforcing alliances with both Yakima Valley College and Columbia Basin College to make seamless the transfer process for their students.
  3. Adding the Heritage@Work, workforce development unit, to enhance training and development opportunities for local industries in preparing their employees for increasingly challenging positions within their organizations.
  4. Enhancing the University’s partnership with Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU) through shared programs including the Master of Arts in Medical Sciences (MAMS) and the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA): Both preparing graduates to succeed as innovative leaders in the delivery of healthcare in the Yakima Valley and nationwide.
  5. Developing closer ties with Valley High Schools: Students can participate in the University’s “New Horizons” program that allows their students to earn college credit while still in high school at no cost; and establishing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Yakima School District (YSD) to become the primary provider of free college credits for College in the High School classes for YSD’s A.C. Davis and Eisenhower students.

The Strategic Plan adopted by HU’s 30-member board of directors in June lays out a roadmap for growth and continuous quality improvement at Heritage through December 31, 2022. The initiatives embraces are directed at growing the offering of services to students. These include implementing programs to meet the transportation, health resources and nutritional needs of students; completing a feasibility study on having on-campus housing; and implementing a sports program. “I’ve been blessed to work with faculty and staff who are dedicated to designing programs that further our mission,” said Dr. Sund. “Thousands have trusted this institution to transform their lives through their Heritage experience, and our strategic plan and renewed accreditation only embolden our intention to do just that.”

In addition to regional accreditation of the University, several programs at Heritage are accredited by accrediting bodies responsible for certifying competency in specific programs. They are as follows:

Medical Laboratory Science: The MLS program at Heritage is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Lab Sciences (NAACLS).

Education: State of Washington approval through the Professional Education Standards Board (PESB) has been granted to the following education programs: Residency Teacher; and Residency Principal/Program Administrator.

Nursing: The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Heritage University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791. It is also approved by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission.

Social Work: The Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.) degree was accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) effective with the class of 1997. The program was re-accredited in 2019.

Physician Assistant: At its September 2018 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) extended Accreditation-Probation status for the Heritage University Physician Assistant program until its next review in September 2020.

For more information, contact David Mance at (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

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