Alumni Currents—news for WWU alumni like you!
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In this issue

Seen and Heard — Who's in the news

Commencement 2019 – Meet our newest alumni

Employee transitions — Honoring WWU's 2019 retirees
Alumni events — Save these dates!

Back to You

Kevin Kakazu '99

Seen and Heard

WWU alumni in the news
Have news to share? Email

Tamara Thomas '83, biology

Tamara Thomas appointed dean of School of Medicine

Tom Evans '90, theology and speech communications

Tom Evans accepts position as Oregon Conference Outreach Ministries Director

Jason Courtright '96, Tom Hamel '96, Wes Georges '97,
mechanical engineering

Colorado Springs defense contractor Apogee Engineering lands $190 million in contracts
Read more updates like these

Homecoming Weekend 2019:  Full of celebration!

Nearly 900 alumni registered for this year's homecoming, and together we celebrated "Excellence in Thought," with a special nod to Peterson Memorial Library's 75th anniversary. More than 50 events were enjoyed, including a thoughtful Thursday night banquet, Friday afternoon seminars, the Eugene Winter Golf Tournament, and our 21st Annual Alumni Car Show on Sunday.

With inspiring Sabbath services and fun class reunions, it was a wonderful weekend! Watch for honor class photos in the next Westwind, which should drop in your mailbox in August.

Above: Dr. Greg Dodds '97 and WWU President John McVay "in the reference room" on stage at our 2019 homecoming banquet. Join us for Homecoming Weekend 2020, April 23-26!
Browse homecoming pictures

Welcome, Class of 2019, to our alumni family!

Nearly 330 undergraduate and 60 graduate students became our newest alumni on Sunday, June 16, receiving their degrees in perfect weather on Centennial Green.

The class included students from 27 states and 11 countries. This year's youngest graduate was 20 years old, and the oldest was 56. The Class of 2019 received more than $13 million in grants or scholarships while at WWU. Three students from this class graduated with 4.0 grade point averages, and one student graduated with three majors.

Pastor and author Karl Haffner '85 (business administration) was this year's commencement speaker. He is the senior pastor at Kettering Seventh-day Adventist Church and mission strategist for Kettering Health Network. He and his wife, Cherié (att.), are parents to daughters, Lindsey '19 and Claire. Haffner's commencement address, “Investing for the Future," encouraged graduates to look beyond themselves.

Introducing four of our newest alumni

You can't meet them all, but take a moment now to learn about four of our newest alumni. We asked each, "What have you gained from the WWU community that you'll take with you into your future pursuits?" Here's what they said:

"WWU has given me a sense of belonging. From the minute I set foot on campus freshman year, until the moment I walked off the stage after receiving my diploma, I felt as though I belonged here. I will always remember the professors who went the extra mile to get to know me outside of class and my fellow peers that have become life-long friends. I am forever grateful to WWU for the genuine friendships I have made with students and faculty alike who have helped me become the individual I am today." ~Amber Quijano

“The community at Walla Walla university has been the most impactful part of my undergraduate experience and has definitely shaped my future. Through community I have connected with professors that I hope to be lifelong mentors, cultivated friendships that I will last a life time, and have gained experiences that have changed my perspective. For my future, I hope to carry the passion and dedication to service that WWU’s community has established and continue to impact the world.” ~Andrew Yamada

“The most significant thing I have gained from the WWU community is friendships with my professors. I know that wherever the road of life takes me, I will always be able to reach out to my professors with questions or to receive advice.” ~Kaitlyn Whitley


"Walla Walla University helped me discover the person I want to be. The community here is one of the biggest reasons why I chose Walla Walla. Students are driven to bring the best of themselves, whether that be their knowledge and skill, effort and energy, or kindness and grace, all in a supportive and loving atmosphere. Walla Walla has motivated and challenged me to use my strengths not only for myself, but to help bring light to a world that needs it. I’ve grown and learned so much on this campus, and while it’s bittersweet to leave, I’m grateful for the opportunities and challenges Walla Walla has given me." ~Jake Voshell

See pictures from 2019 graduation

Alumni events

You'll want to be sure to save these dates!

Sweets Baseball  |  July 16  |  Walla Walla, Wash.  Alumni night with the Walla Walla Sweets Baseball Club! Tickets available now.

Rosario Alumni Sabbath  |  August 23 - 25  |  Anacortes, Wash.  Come for Sabbath, or spend the whole weekend! Dr. Greg Dodds '97 will be our weekend speaker. Registration now open.

Camp meetings  Find WWU representatives at: Regional alumni events
  • September 7  |  Spokane, Wash. Spokane South Hill Adventist Churchjoin us for church service, President McVay at the pulpit, then stay for potluck (WWU brings dessert buffet!) and a campus update.
  • October 12  |  Caldwell, Idaho. Caldwell SDA Churchjoin us for church service, President McVay at the pulpit, then stay for potluck (WWU brings dessert buffet!) and a campus update.
  • November 7 and 9  |  Vancouver/Portland areas. Plan to attend our annual complimentary dinners at the Old Spaghetti Factory in the Vancouver and Portland areas.
For more information about any of our events,
call Alumni and Advancement Services
at (
800) 377-2586 or visit

Campus update

Honoring our distinguished 2019 retirees

On June 4 employees on our College Place campus honored faculty and staff members who have chosen to discover jubilee (retirement). Walla Walla University is grateful to this distinguished group for their tireless and generous service to WWU. 

(From left) Steve Lee, professor of chemistry and department chair; Terry Gottschall '84, professor of history; Gary Rittenbach '74, academic systems director

Students hack Amazon Alexas

Hackathon participants teach Alexa unusual commands
Read more >


Ducky Conveyor

EWB-WWU Ducky Derby device removes 20,000 rubber ducks from Mill Creek in record time
Read more >


Know someone who should be at WWU?
Encourage them to visit us!

When they visit they can attend classes, talk to our professors, and connect with our students—plus, meet people who can help with finances, employment, admissions, student life, and more. Their visit is personalized so they will have ample to explore their interests and get their questions answered. We’ll even help cover costs to come visit!

Send them to to schedule a campus visit.


Stay involved

Share your news!
Recently married? Did you receive a promotion or an award, change your job, complete a new degree, or have a baby? We want to hear about it! Submit your news now.
Know of an internship opportunity for WWU students? 
When you offer an internship with your organization, or refer an internship opportunity, you are helping WWU students secure real-life experience. Start an internship at WWU!
Walla Walla University is hiring.
We are looking for the most qualified candidates! If you or someone you know qualify for any of the employment opportunities currently available, please visit to apply.
Support WWU with Amazon purchases.
When you purchase items on Amazon, you can help support Walla Walla University. To get started, go to and use your regular login information. Then enter “Walla Walla University” as your donation choice. Amazon will automatically donate 0.5% of your purchase to the University Fund which goes toward student scholarship, academic innovation, and facility improvements. Amazon Smile does not work on the Amazon app.
Give a gift.
Thank you for supporting today’s students with your gift, etc. Give online at

Where to stay when you're here

Havstad guest rooms: Located in the Havstad Alumni Center and managed by the Alumni Association. Rate: $60/night.  Make a reservation >

University guest rooms: WWU also offers University Guestrooms that are near the campus for a rate of $60/night.  Make a reservation >

Camper/RV accommodations: Camper/RV parking is available behind Sittner, the men’s residence hall. Power, water, and sewage hook-ups are included in the $10 nightly fee. It is a first-come, first-serve arrangement. Contact Sittner Hall: (509) 527-2111.
Area lodging options:
Stay connected with what’s happening on campus by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also download our campus app for quick access to the calendar, directory information, and other campus resources.


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