2023 A Year in Review

2023 A Year in Review


It was a very busy and productive year at Heritage in 2023. The university celebrated many impressive accomplishments, including expanded degree programs, a new regional location, record-breaking fundraising, strengthened partnerships, and students achieving greatness. Here are a few highlights.

Tri-Cities Expansion!

Heritage expanded its reach in the Tri-Cities area by opening a new regional location in Kennewick. Students can now complete all four years of study in one of six majors – accounting, business administration, criminal justice, education, psychology, or social work – without leaving the Tri-Cities area. Or, they can complete their first two years in Kennewick and then attend classes at the main campus in Toppenish to complete their studies in any of Heritage’s degree programs. It welcomed its first cohort of freshmen for the fall 2023 semester.

The university maintains its relationship with Columbia Basin College (CBC), and students graduating from CBC continue to seamlessly transfer to Heritage to complete their bachelor’s degrees on the college’s campus.

New Graduate Programs!

Heritage developed two new master’s degree programs, the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling and the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree programs.

The MSW program was developed through the support of a five-year, $5.5 million federal grant awarded to Educational Service District 105, which included provisions for the university’s program development. This fall, the program received pre-candidacy status from the Council on Social Work Education’s Board of Accreditation, opening it up to begin recruiting for a fall 2024 start.

A five-year, $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education supported the development and launch of the mental health program. It received approval from the university’s accreditation board and is currently recruiting its first cohort of students who will start in the fall.

Breaking Records!

In June, the 37th annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner broke all previous records, bringing in $872,559 for student scholarships. The event was held at the Toppenish campus and live- streamed so that those who could not attend in person could still participate in real-time.


Strengthened Collaboration!
Heritage and Children’s Hospital of Seattle cemented their partnership surrounding nursing education and shared goals to increase diversity within the profession and improve healthcare in rural communities. The partnership brings hospital nursing staff to Heritage to serve as adjunct faculty members and allows Heritage students to complete a 4-week pediatric clinical rotation at the hospital.

Together, Heritage and Children’s launched a multi-million-dollar campaign to create endowments to support the program in perpetuity. In fall 2023, Jim and Gaye Piggot, who are deeply invested in supporting healthcare and education, announced a $4 million gift to be divided between the two organizations, establishing the Gaye and Jim Pigott Nursing Endowment at Seattle Children’s and the Gaye and Jim Pigott Endowed Chair of Nursing at Heritage.

For the Children!

Heritage opened the new Early Learning Center (ELC) at its Toppenish Campus in March. Construction of the $4.1 million state-of-the-art facility started in spring the year before. It was funded by an anonymous donor.

The new ELC has five classrooms and is larger than the previous facility, allowing it to increase enrollment from 74 to 90 students. Its location, just east of the university’s main campus parking lot, makes it easier and safer for parents to pick up and drop off their children.

The ELC programs are designed to offer experiences that enhance and enrich each child’s cognitive, language, social, emotional, physical and creative development. It serves children from 12 months through pre-kindergarten.

Addressing Food Insecurity!

Heritage opened Eagles Market, a program to address food insecurity among students and their familes. The food pantry is supplied with frozen, refrigerated and non-perishable food items by Opportunities Industrializaiton Center (OIC) in Yakima. It is open for students to stop by and pick up free, nutritious food Monday through Friday. It was made possible by a contribution by Kwik Lok Corporation in Yakima and through a gift from an anonymous donor. Heritage Eagle