Heritage University co-founder honored for her contributions to Yakima region

YAKIMA, Wash. — For her extensive contributions to improving the Yakima region’s educational opportunities through Heritage University, Sister Kathleen Ross has been named the 2022 Ted Robertson Community Service Award Recipient.

As confirmed during a conference on Tuesday morning, Sister Ross will receive the annual honor awarded by the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce Past Presidents/Board Chairs. The award’s namesake, Ted Robertson, made significant impacts on the community and held a strong belief that people who make a difference in their area deserve to be recognized.

Sister Ross has spent more than four decades working in higher education. Her teaching career began in Spokane, but she eventually moved into the  Toppenish area after several years of participating in an outreach program through Fort Wright College.

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That program aimed to extend access to higher education for people who come from low-income households, rural communities or minority groups. After that institution closed, Sister Ross teamed up with two women from the Yakama Nation to found Heritage University.

She became the institution’s first President in 1982 and oversaw its growth from 85 students to more than 1,200 by the time she stepped down in 2010.

On November 3, Sister Ross will receive her honor at the Annual Chamber and Ted Robertson Community Service Awards celebration at the Yakima Convention Center.


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