Dec 04, 2023  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog


Land Acknowledgement

Heritage University occupies its home on the traditional lands of the Yakama People. These ancestral homelands are the Yakama, Palouse, Pisquouse, Wenatshapam, Klikatat, Klinquit, Kow- was-say-ee, Li-ay- was, Skin-pah, Wish-ham, Shyiks, Ochechotes, Kah-milt-pa, and Se-ap-cat, who today are represented by the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation [TREATY OF 1855] and, whose relationship with this land continues to this day. Heritage University, grounded in the vision of the two Yakama women founders, respects Indigenous peoples as traditional guardians of the lands and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories. We offer gratitude for the land itself, for those who have stewarded it for generations, and for the opportunity to study, learn, work, and be in community on this land. We acknowledge that our University’s history, like many others, is fundamentally tied to the first colonial developments in the Yakima Valley. Finally, we respectfully acknowledge and honor past, present, and future Indigenous students who will journey through this home called Heritage University.

Overview of the University

Heritage[MS1]  University was born Heritage College in 1982 to three women: Violet Lumley Rau and Martha B. Yallup, Yakama Nation Tribal Members, and Sister Kathleen Ross, snjm, who became the founding President. Heritage University empowers a multi-cultural and inclusive student body to overcome the social, cultural, economic, and geographic barriers that limit access to higher education. Rooted in the homeland of the Yakama Nation, the University embraces transformational student-centered education that cultivates leadership and a commitment to the promotion of a more just society.

Heritage’s main campus of 48 acres is located in Toppenish, Washington, on Yakama Nation land. The location for the main campus was specifically chosen to provide access to higher education to the people in the Yakima Valley who were geographically isolated from traditional higher education opportunities. Heritage’s campus is a commuter campus, surrounded by agricultural fields. Yakima County leads the nation in several agricultural products, including hops, cherries, mint, and pears. The county provides over 75% of the hops in the United States. Yakima County boasts a population of nearly 250,000 (United States Census Bureau 2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates) and is 49.3% Latinx and 6.4% Native American. As a result of our location, many Heritage students come from families of migrant and agricultural workers, or work in agriculture themselves.

A university education would be unobtainable for most of our students without access to financial aid. Over 90% of our students receive financial aid. Heritage is a Native American-Serving, Nontribal Institution (NASNTI), Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), and a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) member. In the spring of 2019, the total degree-seeking enrollment (headcount) at Heritage University was 910 (709 undergraduate students and 202 graduate students). 85% of Heritage students are the first in their family to attend college, 69% are Hispanic/Latinx, and 12% are Native American.

Heritage continues to foster a close relationship with the Yakama Nation through the Tribal Relations Board Committee, the President’s Liaison for Native American Affairs, Yakama members serving on the Board of Directors, and an annual Pow Wow held on campus. For more information on the history of the Yakama Nation, visit the Yakama Nation website and review the Yakama Nation Treaty of 1855.

Every year, in November, Heritage hosts several celebrations in observation of Native American Heritage month. The Yakama Warriors Association Color Guard presents the flags of the United States, Washington State, and Yakama Nation at the main entrance to campus during the opening ceremony. The annual Honoring Our Elders event celebrates several Yakama Nation Elders. In addition to the traditional graduation ceremony, Heritage recognizes graduating Native American students during the Native American Graduates Honoring Ceremony, where students receive sash and eagle feather to honor and congratulate them on their achievement.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) first accredited Heritage College in 1986. Heritage has since enjoyed reaffirmation of accreditation through NWCCU’s rigorous, peer review evaluation process. In 2004, Heritage College became Heritage University. The University designation better matched our degree offerings that included graduate programs as well as undergraduate programs. It also is a better fit for our Latinx students because there is no proper translation for the word “college” in Spanish.

Courses are offered on the main campus in Toppenish, WA, at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, WA, and online in hybrid, synchronous, and asynchronous formats. Students enjoy a world-class, multi-cultural education and personalized attention. Classes are small, averaging only 11 students in each class. Professors are skilled practitioners with deep ties in their respective disciplines.

There are four administrative units that work together to support Heritage students; each of which operates under the guidance of a Vice President:

  • Academic Affairs
  • Student Affairs
  • Finance/Support Services  
  • Marketing, Communications, and Advancement


For more information on the history of Heritage’s evolution as an accredited institution of higher education, Heritage produced a video available for viewing on our website.


Heritage University empowers a multi-cultural and inclusive student body to overcome the social, cultural, economic, and geographic barriers that limit access to higher education. Rooted in the homeland of the Yakama Nation, the University embraces transformational student-centered education that cultivates leadership and a commitment to the promotion of a more just society. 


In the Yakima Valley and beyond, where a diverse community believes in the power of higher education and aspires to fulfill their dreams through advanced learning, Heritage University provides strong accessible academic programming and support services in a culturally inclusive environment. Well connected to its surrounding communities, Heritage University is a vital contributor to the Yakima valley by working in a fiscally sound environment and serving as an example to higher education practice nationwide.

Student Achievement and Success

Heritage provides an unusually high standard of student support upon entry. Once enrolled, students have access to a powerful education valued and appreciated by both the graduate and future employers. Active and purposeful engagement permeates both staff and faculty commitments to Heritage students. This commitment is verified by data collected related to this core value. Indicators of student achievement are measurable and meaningful in that they reflect the results of improved and continuously improving educational experiences for students. Indicators also reflect concrete evidence for faculty of how they have improved the academic rigor and/or comprehensiveness of their courses.

Institutional Vitality

In addition to fiscal sustainability, this core value includes resource allocation and distribution of institutional resources, determined by the extent to which they are required to fulfill the mission, goals, and expected outcome of Heritage University. Institutional evaluation determines that faculty, staff, and administration are sufficient in numbers, preparation, and experience to achieve the mission, goals, and expected outcomes of Heritage University. Heritage’s sustainability and vitality is dependent on its commitment to the communities in which it resides and serves. Therefore, measures of vitality include the capacity of Heritage University to incorporate organizational strategies that support the continuing investment in the realization of the Heritage University mission.

National and Regional Recognitions

In June 1986, Heritage University received recognition as an accredited institution of higher education from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the regional accrediting body responsible for verifying compliance with nationally recognized norms. This accreditation was retroactive to Sept. 1, 1985. From July 1, 1982, until September 1985, Heritage had candidacy status with the accrediting association. The most recent re-accreditation visit by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities was in April 2019, after which the university’s accreditation was reaffirmed.

Heritage is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). Additionally, with its percentage of Native American students, it is also designated as Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution (NASNTI) . Heritage is one of only two universities in the country to be designated as both a HSI and a NASNTI.

The university is officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as eligible for federal student aid and institutional grant programs.

Through the Washington State Professional Education Standards Board (PESB), Heritage has been granted accreditation approval to offer the following education programs: Residency Teacher; and Residency Principal/Program Administrator. Accreditation is reaffirmed annually. .

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.

The Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program at Heritage is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Lab Sciences (NAACLS). Accreditation was confirmed in April 2018 for 10 years.

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing (BSN) at Heritage University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791. The program was accredited in January 2018 for 5 years. It is also approved by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission.

The Higher Education Coordinating Board of Washington state officially recognizes Heritage and has granted it participation in the state student aid and the state work-study programs, both on and off campus, and has made it eligible for certain competitive grant opportunities offered by the Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The university is an institutional member of the following organizations:

  • Association of Governing Boards (AGB) of Higher Education
  • Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)
  • American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) for Liberal Arts
  • National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)
  • Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)
  • American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)
  • Washington Association of Colleges for Teaching Education (WACTE)
  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
  • Enactus (formerly Students In Free Enterprise) Independent Colleges of Washington (ICW)
  • Northwest Association of Private College and University Libraries (NAPCU)
  • Washington Council for High School-College Relations
  • American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO)
  • Pacific Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (PACRAO)
  • Private Registrars of Washington (PROW)
  • Oregon Private Academic Library Link (OPALL)
  • American Indian Graduate Center
  • Council of Independent Colleges (CIC)
  • National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)
  • Western Association of College and University Business Officers (WACUBO)
  • Online Consortium of Independent Colleges and Universities (OCICU)
  • Campus Compact (service learning and civic engagement)
  • EDUCAUSE (intelligent use of information technology)
  • Education Conservancy
  • Global Learning Goals for Higher Education: Washington state
  • Yakima Ready by Five (early learning organization)

Individual faculty members and administrators hold memberships in numerous other regional and professional associations.

Partnerships and Collaborations

Heritage University has concluded a formal memorandum of understanding for partnership activities with each of the following entities: Battelle Memorial Institute’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Department of Energy at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the University of Washington, Eastern Washington University, Central Washington University, Columbia Basin College, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, Yakima Regional Medical, and Cardiac Center, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Tri-Cities Laboratory, Lourdes Health Network, Kadlec Medical Center, and Kennewick General Hospital.

The University also collaborates with many school districts throughout the state of Washington. It has agreements for internships, practicum sites, and clinical learning sites with numerous regional health care organizations, businesses, social service agencies, and educational entities.

Heritage was designated in 1997 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a National Center of Excellence for rural community development activities and was one of two universities nationally to receive this designation for the eight consecutive years in which it was awarded.

The University is located within the Yakama Indian Reservation, less than three miles from the tribal headquarters. Numerous working relationships with tribal programs enhance both the University and the Yakama Nation’s goals, including projects with the Yakama Tribal School, the Yakama Nation Natural Resources Division, the Yakama Nation Museum and Cultural Center, the Office of Economic Development, and other programs.

The University of Washington’s strong partnership with Heritage is enhanced by having UW offices on the Toppenish campus. UW personnel facilitate joint projects in the Yakima Valley for such efforts as tourism development, increased community access to technology, and rural health research from these offices.

Student Body and Faculty

From an initial enrollment of 85 students on the Toppenish Campus in 1981, the main campus grew to more than 900 students by 2010.  In the fall of 2020, student enrollment at Heritage included:

  • 999 total degree-seeking students
  • 812 undergraduate students
  • 187 graduate students


As of May 2020, a total of more than 10,000 certificates, baccalaureate diplomas, and master’s diplomas have been awarded by the University. Current student information can be found on the Fast Facts page of the Heritage website.

Heritage’s faculty comprises over 200 well-qualified members holding master’s and doctoral degrees from more than 60 different colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad. Approximately 70 of these scholars are employed full-time by the University, and the remainder is adjunct faculty. In addition to their doctoral or master’s degrees, many faculty have practical perspectives gained from full-time professional jobs as accountants, school administrators, lawyers, scientific researchers, musicians and artists, journalists, business managers, social workers, counselors, and teachers.

All of Heritage’s faculty members are carefully chosen to blend excellent academic competency and commitment to the University’s mission. The average class size is approximately 12 to 15 students. Following lengthy research and study, the faculty adopted a statement of “Key Characteristics of Highly Effective Faculty at Heritage University” in 1997 and updated it in 2005. It serves as the basis for faculty performance assessment processes. Outstanding dedication by individual instructors to helping students reach high standards is a hallmark of Heritage’s faculty.

Facilities and Resources

In its 1981 humble beginnings, Heritage College began as a small four-room cottage and three leased classrooms at the McKinley School site.  Heritage University (HU) has since expanded to a modern, well-equipped university campus, with state-of-the-art classrooms, teaching laboratories, and technology infrastructure.

Constructed in 1993, The Kathleen A. Ross, SNJM Center houses the HU Library, President’s Office, Academic Skills Center, testing center, and four fully operational classrooms.  In 2010 the building was renamed in honor of Heritage’s founding president, Sister Kathleen A. Ross, who expanded the campus, programs, and outreach to create a higher education institution responsive to its community’s needs and provides opportunities that otherwise would not have been possible.

Rebuilt in 2014, Petrie Hall houses the Provost & Vice President of Academic Affairs Office, four fully-equipped technical classrooms, and an innovative Art Studio and Gallery. The main building was entitled Petrie Hall in honor of Lorene M. Petrie, a local resident whose charitable trust made the 11.5-acre Heritage College land and buildings property acquisition possible in 1983 - existing previously as the site of the McKinley School.  This original 13,000-square-foot building was renovated in 1994 and again in 1999. But in 2012, HU experienced a disastrous fire, destroying the building. This tragedy was turned into a blessing, allowing for its full replacement and contribution to HU expansion through the construction of two other campus facilities, the Gaye & Jim Piggott Commons and Rick & Myra Gagnier Hall.

Previously named Alder Hall, the 6,000 square-foot Sister Elizabeth Simkins Building stretches along the western edge of campus and includes faculty offices for the College of Education. It was named for Sister Elizabeth Simkins, one of HU’s founding faculty members, a professor of early childhood education who embodied the Heritage ideal of service by giving generously of her time, talent and humor to university students from 1982 to 2002.

The Business Office is located in the Hitchcock Building, one of the original buildings acquired by Sister Ross through the generosity of community leaders.

The Rick and Myra Gagnier Hall was erected following Heritage University’s fire in 2012, providing a new and energized space for the Information Technology department. This building reflects the spirit and contributions of Rick Gagnier, who served as Heritage’s CFO and Vice President for eleven years.

The Gaye & Jim Piggott Commons houses the Eagle’s Café – Heritage University’s full-service, restaurant-quality cafeteria. The Student Lounge and mailroom are found on the North end of the building, while the Barnhill Fireside Room, a dedicated student space, and the Patricia Wade Temple Room, a conference facility, are on the South end. 

The Arts and Sciences Center, built-in 2008, contains four large science labs, project rooms, preparation and storage areas, the Advanced Nursing Skills Lab, additional high-tech classrooms, a reception area, small study nooks for students, and faculty offices. It also includes Smith Family Hall, the largest conference room available on campus, accommodating up to 450 people. The Center contains a host of significant artworks donated to the University and a selection of historic photos from the University archives.

Newly renovated in 2020, the Heritage White House, as it is affectionately known, now houses a Nursing Simulation Lab wherein nursing students can simulate patient care in a home environment.

The Student Service Center provides facilities for Admissions and the Registrar.. This building opened in May 2001.

The Community Business & Training Center houses our High School Equivalency (HEP) program staff and two classrooms for community outreach use.

The Harry Kent Center houses classrooms, offices, and meeting spaces, emphasizing Native American Heritage and programs. An outside mural, painted by former Heritage student Laurie Housman, visually represents some key values of the Yakama Nation and the Valley’s environment.

In December of 2021, HU broke ground on a new $3.2 million state-of-the-art Early Learning Facility to serve the needs of the community. The new five-classroom facility will serve children between the ages of 12 months and kindergarten, providing pre-kindergarten instruction known to be invaluable in later years of scholastic achievement. The center is scheduled to open in the winter of 2022. Students, employees, and local families enroll their children in this all-day child learning center.

One of the most recent additions to the campus, the Violet Lumley Rau Center was dedicated in 2017 to honor one of the University’s three founding mothers, Violet Lumley Rau. The Rau center hosts the Vice President for Student Affairs office, including Student Services, Student Life, Advising, ADA services, TriO Student Support Services, and the C.A.M.P program offices.  Additionally, the Center hosts the university financial aid office.  The Rau Center also contains the largest classroom on campus, Jack and Connie Bloxom Hall.

Also opened in 2017, the Martha Yallup Health Sciences Center facility was dedicated in honor of another of the founding mothers of the University, Martha Yallup.  The center hosts health sciences classrooms, as well as the Advancement, Marketing, Communications, and Business Administration offices.

Library and Information Resources and Services

Located in the Kathleen A. Ross, snjm Center, The Donald K. C. North Library is an open and welcoming place for all members of Heritage University and the greater community.  The 8,736 square foot facility is modeled after the traditional long house.  The fourteen timber columns supporting the roof represent each of the bands and tribes of the Yakama Confederated Tribes.  As the center for intellectual endeavor, the Library works with all Heritage University stakeholders to establish a nurturing environment that fosters learning, creativity, scholarship, synergy, and the quest for knowledge and wisdom. For detailed information about library services and contact information, see the Heritage University Library website.


Information Literacy

The Library seeks to develop information seekers into knowledge producers. Teaching students to become intelligent consumers of information will serve you not only in their undergraduate and graduate education, but in their professional lives. Studies by the National Association of Colleges and Employers and the Project Information Literacy program at the University of Washington, indicate top skills employers look for in new hires is how to critically think, solve problems, and use information effectively.  

Ask your professor to invite a librarian to class to help you and your classmates learn how to best research a question.

As a responsible steward of resources, the North Library is a member in good standing of the Washington Idaho Network (WIN) a consortium of private university libraries in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.  Membership provides discounted prices for online resources and shared participation in managing the ALMA and Primo integrated Library System. The Library has also negotiated with the Orbis Cascade Alliance to acquire other databases at discounted group rates.

Hours of Operation

Please consult the library Web page at for hours of operation. Contact the library with further inquiries at (509) 865-8522 or email:

Computer and Information Technology Resources

The Information Technology department is committed to providing innovative technology and services to fulfill the University mission and strategic goals. 

Our department provides support for student printing, classroom technology, institutional software, and hardware. Students are provided unlimited access to high-speed Wi-Fi and free access to Microsoft Office 365 applications.

The IT Help Desk provides free software support and consulting for students’ personal computers. Students can find technology assistance in person at the Help Desk in Rick and Myra Gagnier Hall, by phone at (509) 865-8579, or email us at

Academic Support

The Academic Skills Center (ASC) at Heritage University is a learning community committed to academic excellence and provides services that are accessible to all students. The ASC provides safe and welcoming spaces, both physical and virtual, where students can access study resources and tools to support their learning. Tutoring, both online and face-to-face, is provided for all major subjects including writing, mathematics, science, history, social science, and critical thinking.

The ASC is located in the Kathleen Ross Building. There, students can find a study space to work, study in small groups with tutor support, receive one-on-one tutoring, and use computers. These services are available by drop-in or appointment.

To view our schedule, make an appointment, drop-in for tutoring with an HU tutor, visit the ASC page at To learn more about any of these services, call the ASC at (509) 865-8517 or email us

Ownership and Administration

The university is incorporated and registered as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Washington. It is owned and governed by a self-perpetuating board of directors of up to 30 members, who represent a broad cross-section of communities and professions and is multicultural and multi-denominational. The President serves at the discretion of the board and is responsible for operating the university with the assistance of administrative officers and their staff members.

Information Disclaimer

At the time of publication, the programs of Heritage University are offered as indicated in this catalog. However, the administration reserves the right to make necessary changes to programs, requirements, and fees during the life of this catalog. The Addenda page of the catalog contains appropriate links to changed content.


Heritage University subscribes to the principles and laws of the federal government and the state of Washington pertaining to civil rights and equal opportunity, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1973. The university has a policy of equal educational opportunity, equal employment opportunity, and nondiscrimination in the provision of educational and other services to the public. Heritage does not discriminate in admission or access to its educational facilities or in its treatment of students or employees in its programs and activities on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, veteran status, or disabling conditions, in violation of federal or state law.

The current law of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, states the following: “A disability can be a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual.” The ADA law prohibits discrimination and ensures that individuals with disabilities have “the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life - to enjoy employment opportunities, education, to purchase goods and services, to participate in State and local government programs and services.” As an institution of higher education, Heritage University commits to make reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities.  For information about student ability services on campus, please visit the Office of Ability Services webpage. Contact Information: Yovanna Cook, MSW. Mental & Social Health Counselor / ADA Specialist. Office: 509-865-8544; cell phone: 760-208-8825; email:


Diversity and Equity

The objectives of the Heritage University Equal Opportunity Program are to eliminate discrimination and, in conformity with state and federal laws and in keeping with the university’s mission, to develop and maintain a workforce and a student body that reflect the communities of the regions that the university serves. Applications for employment and student admission are especially solicited from groups underrepresented in various levels of the workforce and/or in the region’s higher education student bodies.