Non-profit agencies in Western Washington are turning to Heritage University master’s program for mental health counselor education and training for their employees


Non-profit agencies in Western Washington are turning to Heritage University master’s program for mental health counselor education and training for their employees

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University is helping non-profit agencies in western Washington meet the demand for mental health counselors by offering their Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling (MMHC) program to non-profit employees. The hybrid MMHC program delivers an HU-created curriculum to Seattle-area non-profit agency employees who find it challenging to earn their master’s degree due to schedule constraints, family responsibilities, and the cost of obtaining the degree.

Forty-one students across two cohorts representing eleven non-profits are enrolled in the program. The first cohort comprised 23 students from six agencies (Catholic Community Services, Center for Human Services, Community House, Therapeutic Health Services, Transitional Resources YMCA of Greater Seattle) started classes this past spring. A second cohort of 18 students from an additional five agencies (Asian Counseling and Referral Services, Consejo Counseling Services, Evergreen Health, Vine Maple Place and WAPI Community Services) will begin classes this fall.

Amy Nusbaum, Ph.D., chair of the psychology department at Heritage says the versatility of the MMHC program’s curriculum will allow graduates in western Washington to work as mental health counselors in a wide array of fields. “Our program is proud to partner with these incredible professionals who are already doing vital work in their communities,” said Dr. Nusbaum. “We are excited to be a part of that work by providing the graduate education needed to help address the mental health crises happening in King County, the Yakima Valley, and beyond. Heritage University has a long history of designing degree programs to meet the needs communities are experiencing, and this is just another example of the Heritage mission in action.”

YMCA of Greater Seattle Program Director Genell Hennings says the MMHC will help agencies like hers meet their emerging need for master’s professionals in local community behavioral health agencies. “The MMHC program addresses the critical shortage of master’s level behavioral health providers from historically marginalized groups – specifically individuals living with a disability, and members of the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities within King County,” said Hennings.

Graduates of the program agree to work in a therapeutic capacity at their sponsoring agency for a period of four years in exchange for this tuition free graduate school opportunity. For more information contact Amy Nusbaum at (509) 426-4536 or For help coordinating interviews, please contact Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or

# # #

Heritage University awarded prestigious WASA award for its impact on public education in Washington



Heritage University administrators holding award and standing on stage with WASA representatives

Heritage University administrators accept the D.A. Davidson Barbara Mertens Legacy Award given to Heritage during the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) awards ceremony in Spokane, Wash. on June 24, 2024. From left to right, Dr. Rick Cole, Associate Professor, HU Education Administration Program; Joel Aune, executive director, WASA, Dr. Andrew Sund, HU President; Dr. Catherine Zeisner, Chair, HU Education Administration Program; Dr. Antonio Estudillo, Chair, HU Teacher Preparation Program; Hannah Bulla, Public Finance Associate, DA Davidson (award co-sponsor); and Mike Villarreal, WASA President and Superintendent Hoquiam School District.


Heritage University awarded prestigious WASA award for its impact on public education in Washington

Spokane, Wash. – The Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) honored Heritage University with the D.A. Davidson Barbara Mertens Legacy Award. Dr. Rick Cole, associate professor of the Education Administration Program at Heritage and Dr. Andrew Sund, president of Heritage University, Dr. Catherine Zeisner, chair of the HU Education Administration Program and Dr. Antonio Estudillo, chair of the HU Teacher Preparation Program accepted the award on behalf of the university during the 44th annual WASA Honorary Award Luncheon in Spokane, Wash.

The D.A. Davidson Barbara Mertens Legacy Award recognizes an individual or group who has had a significant impact on public education in Washington and a legacy that has a lasting influence. Dr. Sund said while this prestigious award is in recognition of the university’s work, it is largely a testament to the work of Dr. Cole and his colleague, Dr. Ken Bergevin, Chair of the Education Administration Program, and their contributions to education and exemplary service to the community. “Their vision, commitment and tireless efforts have not only shaped the lives of countless students but have also helped to pave the way for the next generation of school leaders in the Yakima Valley,” said Dr. Sund.

Dr. Melissa Hill, Provost and VP of Academic Affairs at Heritage said Dr. Bergevin and Dr. Rick Cole have been instrumental in helping Heritage achieve this recognition. “The collective efforts of Dr. Bergevin and Dr. Cole have made a significant impact on the educational landscape of our region, and we are truly grateful for their collaborative spirit and dedication to serving the needs of school districts in our region,” said Dr. Hill.

The 44th annual WASA Honorary Award Luncheon was held in Spokane, Wash. on June 24, 2024. For more information, please contact Davidson Mance, media relations coordinator at (509) 969-6084 or

# # #

Heritage University Announces Retirement of President Andrew Sund, PhD


Heritage University Announces Retirement of President Andrew Sund, PhD

Toppenish, WA – Heritage University announces that President Andrew Sund, PhD, the institution’s third president, will retire on June 30, 2025, after an impactful and dedicated eight-year term.

Dr. Sund has led Heritage University with distinction since 2017, fostering a period of significant growth and development for the university. Under his leadership, Heritage has expanded its academic programs, increased student enrollment, and strengthened community partnerships. Dr. Sund’s unwavering commitment to academic excellence and student success has been the hallmark of his presidency.

A true champion for equity and accessible education, Dr. Sund has ensured that Heritage University remains an inclusive institution that serves students from all backgrounds. His efforts have made higher education more attainable for many who might otherwise have faced significant barriers. Additionally, Dr. Sund has been instrumental in the significant growth of the University’s endowment. His strategic vision and effective fundraising efforts have strengthened the university’s financial foundation, ensuring that Heritage University can continue to provide quality education and support for our students for generations to come.

“It has been an honor to serve as the president of Heritage University,” said Dr. Sund. “I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together and grateful for the support of our talented faculty, dedicated staff, and inspiring students. As I prepare for my retirement, I look forward to watching Heritage continue to thrive and grow.”

Sund expressed his desire to teach, write, and spend time at his homes in Chicago and near Santiago, Chile as the primary reasons for his decision to retire.

In preparation for Dr. Sund’s upcoming retirement, the Heritage University Board of Directors will engage in a national search to identify the next president.

“The board is deeply appreciative of Dr. Sund’s visionary leadership and the numerous accomplishments during his tenure,” said Bob Gerst, Chair of the Heritage University Board of Directors. “We are committed to finding a successor who will build on his legacy and lead Heritage University into its next chapter of excellence.”

The search committee will commence its work immediately, with the goal of identifying and appointing a new president before Dr. Sund’s retirement date to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.

Heritage University will host a series of events in the coming months to celebrate Dr. Sund’s contributions to the university and to provide opportunities for the community to express their gratitude.

For more information, please contact Davidson Mance, Media Relations Coordinator at (509) 969-6084 or

# # #

Heritage University’s 38th annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner raises $803,590 and counting for student scholarships

Heritage University’s 38th annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner raises $803,590 and counting for student scholarships

Heritage University’s 38th annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner, held this past weekend, brought in $803,590, with the amount expected to grow. The premier fundraiser for student scholarships at Heritage was also live streamed for those who wished to attend remotely.

For the third year in a row, Bounty of the Valley featured hosts Alex Vera and Gerardo Ruelas, two Heritage alumni from the Yakima Valley who have gone on to successful careers with Costco Wholesale at the company’s headquarters in Issaquah, Wash.

Heritage University alumna Lillie Wesley, who recently graduated from Heritage inMay with a B.S. in biology, served as the student speaker. Wesley is enrolled Yakama who was born and raised in the Yakima Valley. She graduated from Toppenish High School in 2019 and started her college career at Heritage the following fall semester. Her fascination with how the human body works and desire to help address the medical needs of those living on the Yakama reservation goes back to her earliest years. She decided to major in biology to give her a foundational education for graduate studies that would prepare her for a medical career. Wesley completed research experiences every summer during her undergraduate studies. She worked with Yakama Nation youth at the tribal school on a forest survey, completed an air quality study with the EPA, researched beet leaf virus with the USDA, researched spider webs in Costa Rica, and studied muscular degeneration from ALS and spinal bulbar muscular atrophy at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. She is working at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences as part of their summer program, and she plans to enroll in an EMT certification program. She wants to work as an EMT for a few years before exploring specialized studies in the medical field.

Heritage University President Andrew Sund, Ph.D., expresses profound gratitude to the supporters and sponsors of Bounty of the Valley, whose continued investment in student scholarships makes a significant impact. “Most of our students come from economic backgrounds that make higher education unaffordable,” said Dr. Sund. “The unwavering community support our students receive is crucial for their ability to earn college degrees. For over 40 years, the extraordinary generosity of our donors has enabled more than 11,000 individuals to graduate from Heritage. These graduates have contributed to the community as educators, business leaders, healthcare professionals, and more throughout the Valley. We deeply appreciate their remarkable support.”

A recording of the Bounty of the Valley live stream can be viewed by clicking on the button below, or by visiting Donations to student scholarships can be made on the same page by clicking on the “Raise Your Paddle” button.

# # #

Heritage University makes appearance on two prestigious “Best Colleges” lists


Heritage University makes appearance on two prestigious “Best Colleges” lists

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University’s mission to make higher education accessible to anyone with the talent and drive to pursue a degree – regardless of economics, culture, and geographic location – is gaining recognition as a “best college” on two different lists., a college ranking and review website, placed Heritage at number five on its “Best Private Colleges in Washington” list; and U.S. News and World Report ranked Heritage at number 50 (out of 104) on its “Best Regional Universities-West” list.

Niche says while both private and public schools contribute significantly to postsecondary education, private institutions stand out because of their smaller size, esteemed reputation, and flexible programs. They generally offer smaller class sizes, leading to more direct instruction and support. Heritage has long championed its strength in small numbers. “Heritage students enjoy an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio,” says Heritage University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Melissa Hill, Ph.D. “They don’t feel like just a number. They get more one-on-one time with their professors, individual tutoring and advising, as well as other opportunities that students who choose a larger university will never experience,” said Dr. Hill.

While U.S. News rankings are based on several categories of quality indicators, including outcomes (graduation, retention, and graduation rate performance), peer assessment, and faculty resources, to name a few, many of the universities listed alongside Heritage have histories spanning decades, even centuries. Heritage has attained a ranking in the top half of the list while only being 42 years old, a staggering accomplishment considering it is a widely believed consensus in the higher education community that it takes a long time for schools to achieve a high rank. U.S. News’ research also shows that the greater access students have to quality instructors, the more likely they are to be engaged in their classes, learn, and ultimately graduate. “At Heritage, our students learn from world-class professors right here in the Yakima Valley,” said Heritage University President Andrew Sund, Ph.D. “These professors have connections to businesses who offer career-launching internships, while others have relationships with scholars programs at prestigious colleges nationwide that can put students onto the path of pursuing master’s degrees and doctoral degrees,” said Dr. Sund.

Heritage University welcomes the prestige and reputation boosts that come with these recognitions. “We believe the rankings reflect the investments we have made into our programs and the experiences our students receive as a result of them,” said Vice President of Advancement and Marketing & Communications David Wise. For more information, please contact Davidson Mance, media relations coordinator, at (509) 969-6084 or

# # #

Heritage University Class of 2024 Commencement


Heritage University to hold Class of 2024 Commencement at
Yakima Valley SunDome

Yakima, Wash. – Heritage University celebrates the Class of 2024 at Commencement on Saturday, May 11, at 10:00 a.m. at the Yakima Valley SunDome. Undergraduate and graduate degrees will be conferred upon students graduating from the Heritage Toppenish campus and the Tri-Cities regional site. Overall, 197 students earned their degrees at Heritage this year.

Jim Pigott of Seattle, Wash., philanthropist, and generous benefactor of Heritage University will present this year’s commencement address. Pigott and his wife, Gaye, are long-time supporters of Heritage and its students. Among their many initiatives are the creation of the Gay and Jim Pigott Nursing Endowment at Heritage and Seattle Children’s Hospital made through a $4 million gift in 2023 and the establishment of the Moccasin Lake Foundation Scholarship. Additionally, they have funded numerous campus projects, including the construction of the Gaye and Jim Pigott Commons which is home to the university’s café, conference rooms, and student lounge and is an integral part of the daily operations at the institution. The number of lives impacted by the Pigotts’ philanthropy is immeasurable. Throughout their lifetimes, they’ve supported countless organizations through their charitable giving and volunteer services throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

It is also with profound honor and remembrance that Heritage University announces the posthumous awarding of an honorary doctoral degree to Professor Emeritus of Education Edwin “Ed” Rousculp, who passed away in January. Rousculp’s tenure at Heritage began in 1983 when he started teaching English in the evenings as an adjunct instructor while still teaching at the Yakama Nation Tribal School. After leaving to pursue his graduate studies at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., he returned to Heritage in 1993. as a full-time faculty member in the College of Education. That same year he was appointed Chair of the Teacher Education Program. He served in that role until 2005 when he became the Director of the Center for Intercultural Learning and Teaching, where he remained until his retirement in 2022.

Heritage University will present the 2024 Violet Lumley Rau Outstanding Alumnus Award to Jennifer Johann for her dedication to helping lift the field of education and the educational outcomes for all children in her community. Johann earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education in 2004 and an M.Ed. in professional development in 2007 from Heritage. Johann has spent 19 years teaching in the Mount Adams School District and currently teaches third grade at Harrah Elementary School. Throughout her career, she’s built a rapport with her students that cemented her reputation as a teacher who truly cares. Outside the classroom, she assists other Harrah Elementary students through her work as a 21st-century supervisor for the NCAC-Farmworkers Clinic after-school program. As an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation, Johann brings her cultural insights to her work, promoting inclusivity and diversity within the school and the broader community. Among her many efforts, she created the Since Time Immemorial website for her district, which provides teacher and school resources that incorporate indigenous perspectives into education.

Heritage will also announce the recipients of the Board of Directors Academic Excellence Award, which is presented to all undergraduate students who earned a perfect 4.0 during their studies, and the President’s Council Student Award of Distinction during the ceremony.

The Yakima Valley SunDome is located at 1301 South Fair Ave. in Yakima. Parking is free. Additional information is available online at

For more information, contact Davidson Mance, media relations coordinator at (509) 969-6084 or


# # #

A Heart for Heritage – Wings Spring 2024

When Dick and Pat Twiss made the Yakima Valley their home 57 years ago, they brought with them a passion for making a difference in the lives of those around them. Dick, now a retired cardiologist, dedicated 45 years to delivering essential medical care that not only extended the lives of his patients but also enhanced their overall well-being. His expertise was literally lifesaving, fostering longer and healthier lives for countless patients.

However, the Twisses’ impact goes beyond the medical realm. Together, their shared commitment to elevating the quality of life in their community led them to support many civic endeavors and eventually to Heritage University, where they became a transformative force. Their dedication has unlocked doors of opportunity through education for countless individuals. While maybe not lifesaving in the same way as a heart surgeon, the lives they have touched have been transformed in meaningful ways.

Dick and Pat Twiss have orchestrated a narrative of community enrichment. Their story is a testament to the profound influence that compassion and commitment can have on both the individual and the community at large, creating a legacy that resonates with the transformative power of education and the ripple effect of philanthropy.

The Twiss’ Heritage story began shortly after the university began in the early 1980s. A colleague told Dick about “a couple of nuns” from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary who had started a college in rural Toppenish, Washington, just a few miles south of Yakima.

“I was educated for 12 years in The Dalles by the Sisters of the Holy Names,” said Dick, who grew up in the small Oregon town. “I was familiar with sisters’ work in primary and secondary education and was curious about what they were doing in Toppenish. I asked my colleague to introduce me to the sisters so I could learn more.”

Pat and Dick Twiss

Dick and Pat traveled down to the fledgling campus and met with Sister Kathleen Ross, Heritage’s founding president. At the time, Heritage had only been operating for four years. It was little more than a few classrooms in a former elementary school and a library created from books handed down from its predecessor school, Fort Wright College. As they toured the school and met with Ross, they also talked to a few of the students, and faculty and staff.

“We were impressed by the work being done and by the students we spoke to,” said Dick. “They were all so dedicated, and the students were eager to learn. Sr. Kathleen and her staff were creating an environment and teaching style unlike anything else. It was specifically designed so that the students they were working with would be successful. For the most part, these students were low-income, minorities and the first in their families to go to college, and they had no other options available to them to earn a degree.”

That first meeting sparked a nearly four-decade-long relationship that helped build the institution as it stands today. Their financial support has funded student scholarships, including an endowed scholarship in their name dedicated to helping students studying to enter the medical field, helped student clubs travel to national competitions, and helped build a thriving campus. They even expanded the footprint of the university when they purchased the old Toppenish Grange, which sat across the roadfrom the college, and gifted the property to Heritage. That old building was used for many years as an art room and meeting hall before the property was converted to house an early learning center.

As impressive as their generosity towards Heritage is, their commitment goes much deeper than their financial support. Dick spent a total of 21 years on the board of directors, once from 1990-2002 and a second time from 2007- 2016, and he was the Board Chairman from 2007-2009. He’s been part of the leadership team at almost every significant milestone in the university’s history: every multi-million-dollar capital campaign, the construction of nearly every building on the campus, the development of some of the university’s most successful academic programs, and the transition of leadership when Ross announced her retirement and the subsequent national search and hiring of Heritage’s second president, Dr. John Bassett.

Dick and Pat have also been fixtures at many of Heritage’s key events. They cheered on their favorite team at the polo fundraising events that took place during the university’s early years. They’ve attended every Scholarship Dinner. They were there for the openings of ten campus buildings, including the Arts and Sciences Center, Petrie Hall, Kathleen Ross snjm Building, the Martha B. Yallup Health Sciences Building and Violet Lumley Rau Center. They were part of the crowd of supporters who celebrated Ross when she retired and welcomed both Bassett, and current president Dr. Andrew Sund, at their inaugurations. And they have been among the scores of families and friends who cheered for graduates as they walked across the stage to get their well-earned degrees at several commencements.

“What is truly remarkable about Dick and Pat is how great their hearts are for this university and our students,” said David Wise, vice president for Advancement. “Every time there is a need, they are among the first to step forward and say, ‘How can we help.’ Together, they’ve made more individual gifts to Heritage than any other donor. There isn’t a student at Heritage, past, present or future, whose education hasn’t been touched by Dick and Pat.”

For the couple, what first excited them about Heritage, and what has kept them such ardent supporters over the years, is the impact the institution has both on the lives of the individuals who are attending the college, as well as on the community in which it serves.

“You can so clearly see the need here,” said Dick. “The need for a university to provide education to those who are unable to go anywhere else to learn, and the need for supporting scholarship so that these students can afford to go to college.

“Education is truly life-changing for these students and their families, and we can see the impact they are making in our schools and businesses and health centers after they graduate.”

Pat added, “There are lots of colleges out there, bigger colleges, who do a fine job educating young people. But they have so many more resources available to them. We feel like, through Heritage, we are really able to make a difference.”

“We are very proud of the university,” said Dick. “It gives us great pleasure knowing that we’ve been a part of their success.”  Heritage Eagle

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



News Briefs – Wings Spring 2024



College of Education professor receives national award for dissertation

HU Assistant Professor Amy Nuñez, Ph.D., received third place in the Kurt M. Landgraf Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) and the Educational Testing Service. The award is given annually to spotlight top doctoral students and to showcase Hispanic students’ excellence. The goal is to encourage more Hispanic students to pursue doctoral degrees and to enhance the quality of the dissertations these students write.

Nuñez received her award for her dissertation, I Wish They Knew We Existed: The Academic Experiences of Latinx College Students in Mixed-Status Families. She completed her work as part of her doctoral studies at Indiana University-Bloomington, where she earned a Ph.D. in Education Policy. She presented her dissertation at the AAHHE conference in March when she received her award. Heritage Eagle


Theatrical troupe set to perform professor’s script on a national tour

Professor Winona Wynn received an award from The National Endowment for the Arts to write a script about the life of Sacagawea, a Lemhi Shoshone woman who helped Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on their expedition to cross the western United States.

Sacagawea was performed by The Core Ensemble at a special invitation- only venue in Lakeworth, Florida. It was so well received that the company commissioned Wynn to write two additional scripts featuring Native American women to be included in a production that will go on tour across the United States this fall. Wynn completed a script about Wilma Mankiller, the first primary chief of the Cherokee Nation, and has a third script about Yankton Dakota writer, educator, translator, musician and political activist Zitkala-Ša, in progress.

The Core Ensemble performs works highlighting three historical figures in a presentation that blends compelling narrative with musical accompaniment. Each production includes educational programming to accompany the stories. Heritage Eagle





HU alumni challenge other graduates to Pay it Forward

A new endowed scholarship established by Heritage graduates will help future students rounding the corner toward graduation. Called Pay it Forward, the fund was started by two Heritage alumni to both give thanks for the help they received when they were undergraduates and to pass along those blessings to future generations of students. The couple, who wish to remain anonymous, set up the endowment with the initial contribution and hope that other graduates will contribute to the fund and help it grow.

“Most of us Heritage alumni received some sort of financial support while we were in college. We envision other alumni contributing to this fund as a way to help students get an extra push on their final step in their educational journey.”

Scholarships from the fund are earmarked for junior and senior students.

Endowed scholarships have the potential to make the greatest impact on the greatest number of students over time. They are created through a significant initial investment, which is held in perpetuity and invested for long-term growth. Scholarships are awarded annually as directed by the university Board of Directors. Gifts to the university can be directed to the endowed scholarship, which will grow the principal and ultimately increase the number of students who benefit from the gift. To make your gift to Pay it Forward, visit Heritage Eagle

Nursing program gets shot in the arm with grant to expand outreach and support

Heritage University received a three-year, $1.4 million grant from the Biden-Harris Administration to launch an innovative program to address the critical shortage of nurses in our rural communities. The program is called Pathways to Opportunity and takes a two-pronged approach to addressing nursing education. First, it increases outreach into local high schools to guide students interested in a nursing career and helps them prepare for college. Second, it provides for dedicated case managers within the university’s nursing program who will help all Bachelor of Nursing students prepare for the licensing examination, and offers career guidance, advising, and mentorship. The goal of this approach is to ensure that incoming students are prepared for the rigors of college and that, when enrolled, they receive the wrap-around support that keeps them engaged and more likely to persist to graduation.

“This substantial investment from the Biden-Harris administration underscores the importance of addressing the critical shortage of nurses in rural communities and Heritage University’s role in helping to fill those gaps,” said Dr. Melissa Hill, Heritage provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

Pathways to Opportunity will focus on Native American, Hispanic, low-income, and first- generation high school and college students. Outreach will target students in the eight high schools in communities surrounding the university’s Toppenish campus and the Yakama Tribal School. Heritage Eagle


Quarter million dollar gift directed to support DACA and DREAMER students

Heritage University received a $250,000 gift from the directors of the Bezos Family Foundation to support the institution’s DACA Emergency and DREAMER Funds. This transformative contribution reflects a commitment to supporting the immediate needs of undocumented students facing unforeseen challenges.

Each year, the Bezos Family Foundation’s Board of Directors chooses non-profit organizations that align with the Foundation’s mission. In selecting Heritage, the Foundation’s directors recognize the university’s work to provide equitable opportunities to children and youth in its communities.

“This gift underscores the understanding that the foundation directors have of challenges undocumented students face if they wish to pursue a college education. DACA and DREAMER students do not qualify for federal financial aid, often creating situations where the cost of attending college is insurmountable,” said Dr. Andrew Sund, Heritage president. “This gift helps level the playing field for students to pursue a college degree regardless of their immigration status.” Heritage Eagle










In Memoriam – Wings Spring 2024

Ed Rousculp

Heritage lost a beloved fixture to the campus community in January when Professor Emeritus of Education Edwin Rousculp passed away.

Rousculp was a Vietnam-era veteran who served four years in the Air Force before he entered college at Wright State University in Ohio. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and Teaching, and taught middle school in Carlton, Ohio, before he and his wife, Susan, moved to the Yakima Valley. They settled in Toppenish, and he went to work at the Yakama Nation Tribal School.

His tenure at Heritage began in 1983 when he started teaching English in the evenings as an adjunct instructor while still teaching at the Tribal School. He took a brief hiatus from the university when he moved to Pullman, Washington to pursue his graduate studies at Washington State University (WSU). In 1993, he returned to Heritage as a full-time faculty member in the College of Education. Later that year, he was appointed Chair of the Teacher Education Program. He continued to serve in that role until 2005 when he transitioned into the position of Director of the Center for Intercultural Learning and Teaching, where he remained until his retirement in 2022.

“Ed’s commitment to education, unwavering support for our students, and positive impact on colleagues resonate deeply within our hearts. He embodied kindness, patience, generosity, and gentleness, qualities that made him not only an exceptional colleague but a true friend to many,” said Dr. Andrew Sund, Heritage University president. “We are collectively mourning the loss of a remarkable individual. His dedication and passion for Heritage University’s mission have forged a legacy that will endure for years to come.”

Ted Strong

Former Heritage University board member and Yakama Nation tribal elder Taninsh Ted Strong died on January 30. He was 76.

Strong served on the Heritage board from 2003 to 2012 and was a member of the Executive Committee and the Tribal Relations Committee. In 2022, he was among the Heritage’s Honoring Our Elders award recipients.

In addition to his Heritage service, Strong was a leader among the Yakama Nation and an advocate for treaty rights, salmon recovery, water rights and environmental management. He served as the executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, was a chief judge for the Yakama Nation Tribal Courts, and was director of the Yakama Housing Authority. Most recently, he was the Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for Yakima Chief Hops.


Virginia Beavert

A renowned linguist, author and educator, Dr. Virginia Beavert Tuxámshish passed away in February at the age of 102.

Beavert dedicated her life to revitalizing and preserving indigenous languages, particularly Ichishkiin, also called Sahaptin, which is the traditional language of the Yakama people. She was one of the first instructors in Heritage University’s Ichishkiin language program and was instrumental in building the program into what it is today. In addition, she was the co-author of the Ichishkíin Sínwit Yakama / Yakima Sahaptin Dictionary and author of The Gift of Knowledge/Ttnúwit Átawish Nch’inch’imamí: Reflections on Sahaptin Ways.

In 2015, Beavert was recognized by Heritage as one of the first four recipients of the Honoring Our Elders award.

“Her wisdom, passion, and commitment were instrumental in fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich linguistic diversity that is an integral part of Native American heritage,” said President Sund.