The Ross Institute for Student Success Research is named after Sister Kathleen A. Ross, SNJM, and president emerita of Heritage University, which she co-founded in 1982 with Martha B. Yallup and Violet Lumley Rau of the Yakama Nation. The Institute will serve as a legacy to Dr. Ross and continue her groundbreaking work spanning more than four decades. She is a nationally recognized leader in higher education, especially in cross-cultural communication.
In the 1970s,“Sister Kathleen,” as she is popularly known on campus, served as provost of Fort Wright College of the Holy Names in Spokane, Washington, operated by the order of Catholic Sisters to which Sr. Kathleen belongs. She oversaw the creation of outreach programs in the remote towns of Toppenish and Omak that provided place-bound, low-income, and first-generation students the opportunity to earn four-year college degrees.
When Fort Wright College closed, Sister Kathleen, with the help of Yallup and Rau, started Heritage College in Toppenish, located in the homeland of the Yakama Nation. Serving as Heritage’s first president, Sister Kathleen shaped the college’s unique mission and guided its growth from 85 students to more than 1,400 when she stepped down as president in 2010. Since then, Sister Kathleen has remained active in the Heritage community and shared the success of the Heritage model with colleges and universities throughout the United States.