Meet Our Staff

Dr Kathreen Ross

Kathleen Ross, snjm

Founding President Emerita and Professor, Cross-Cultural Communications

The Ross Institute

Simkins (Alder) Building

Phone: (509) 865-8657

Ext: 2113


Current Roles

Heritage University Institute for Student Identity and Success, Director; Heritage University Archives, Designer and Developer; Council of Independent Colleges’ Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), Heritage University Representative; Yes We Must Coalition (YWM), Secretary of Executive Board; Washington State University College of Pharmacy, Yakima Site Advisory Council.


Dr. Ross’ career in higher education spans more than four decades.  In the 1970s she served as provost of Fort Wright College in Spokane where she oversaw the creation of outreach programs in Toppenish and Omak, Washington, that extended the opportunity for four-year college degrees to rural, diverse and low income populations.  In 1982, she became the founding president of Heritage University, where she oversaw its growth from 85 students to more than 1200, stepping down in 2010.  Today, she maintains her ties to Heritage and is working to share the success of the Heritage model with colleges and universities throughout the United States, as well as set up the Heritage University Archives. In 2016 Harvard Education Press published her book based on work with first-generation-to-college student research assistants. Breakthrough Strategies: Classroom-Based Practices to Support New Majority College Students received wide visibility and speaking requests from universities nationally. She currently serves on the national board of the College Success Foundation, the board of Holy Names University in Oakland, California, the Advisory Board of Western Governors University – Washington, and the International Leadership Team for the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (Longueuil, Quebec).

Dr. Ross has received numerous awards, including the 1989 national Harold McGraw Prize in education, the 1991 John Carroll Award from Georgetown University, the 1995 Washington State Medal of Merit, and in 1997 she was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, the so-called “Genius Award.”  She has received honorary degrees from more than a dozen colleges and universities including Dartmouth, Alverno, Pomona, Whitworth, Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Pacific Lutheran, University of Puget Sound and Seattle University. Dr. Ross holds a B.A. degree from Fort Wright College, an M.A. from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. At Claremont, she did her dissertation on cultural factors affecting the success of American Indian students in higher education. Kathleen Ross has been a member of the Catholic order of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, headquartered in Quebec, Canada, since 1962.