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Walla Walla University leadership team

Walla Walla University is led by the university president, the president’s Cabinet, and the Board of Trustees. The president and vice presidents lead the day-to-day management and direction of the university, and the president receives this authority from the university Board of Trustees.

Three times a year, the president and vice presidents meet with the Board of Trustees to advise that governing body regarding university matters. The Board of Trustees is responsible for the overall government and welfare of the university, including matters regarding faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The board is also responsible for selecting the university president, determining the major goals of the university, and approving university budgets.

As a Seventh-day Adventist university, members of the Board of Trustees include regional leaders of the Adventist church as well as church members elected to terms of service on the board.

John K. McVay has led the university as president since 2006.

Learn more about the Board of Trustees.

President’s Cabinet

John McVay

President

(509) 527-2121
john.mcvay@wallawalla.edu


Executive assistant to the president
Deirdre Benwell
deirdre.benwell@wallawalla.edu 
(509) 527-2121
Fax: (509) 527-2103

Assistant to the president
Darold Bigger
darold.bigger@wallawalla.edu 
(509) 527-2389
Fax: (509) 527-2103

Education

  • BA Southern Adventist University, 1980; Theology
  • MDiv Andrews University, 1983
  • PhD University of Sheffield, 1995

Previous Experience

  • Seminary dean, Andrews University Theological Seminary, 2000–2006
  • Associate dean and professor of New Testament, Andrews University Theological Seminary, 1998–2000
  • Assistant and associate professor of religion, Pacific Union College, 1985–1998
  • Pastor, Iowa and Georgia, 1977–1978, 1982–1985

Family

John and his wife, Pam, have two children: Marshall and Macy.

Other

John McVay's Inauguration Address 

Volker Henning

Vice President
for academic administration

(509) 527-2431
volker.henning@wallawalla.edu 


Executive assistant to the vice president for academic administration
Cheri Wolcott
cheri.wolcott@wallawalla.edu
(509) 527-2431
Fax: (509) 527-2103

Education

  • BA Southern Missionary College, 1977; Theology and Communication (media)
  • MDiv Andrews University, 1980
  • MA University of Central Florida, 1989; Communication
  • PhD University of Tennessee, 1996; Mass Communication

Previous Experience 

  • Associate vice president for academic administration, Southern Adventist University, 2006–2017
  • Dean and professor of journalism and communication, Southern Adventist University, 2000–2006
  • Professor of journalism and communication, Southern Adventist University, 1989–2000
  • Communication director, Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1985–1989
  • Pastor/associate pastor, Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1980–1985

Family

Volker and his wife, Linda, have two adult children and three granddaughters.

Steve Rose

Vice President
for financial administration

(509) 527-2402
steve.rose@wallawalla.edu 


Executive assistant to the vice president for financial administration
Sharryl Toews
sharryl.toews@wallawalla.edu
(509) 527-2402
Fax: (509) 527-2130

Education

  • BS Walla Walla University, 1985; Business Administration
  • Certified public accountant certification (CPA) State of California, 1988

Previous Experience

  • Associate and under treasurer, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1999–2007
  • Treasurer, Southern Asia Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, Silang, Cavite, Philippines, 1997–1998
  • Assistant, associate, and treasurer, Asia Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, Singapore, Republic of Singapore, 1992–1996
  • Staff auditor, General Conference Auditing Service, Singapore, Republic of Singapore, 1988–1991
  • Staff auditor, General Conference Auditing Service, Loma Linda, California, 1987–1988
  • Assistant staff auditor, General Conference Auditing Service, Westlake Village, California, 1985–1987

Family

Steve and his wife, Suzann, have three children: Janae, Sara, and Dustin.


Doug Tilstra

Vice President
for student life

(509) 527-2511
doug.tilstra@wallawalla.edu


Administrative assistant to the vice president for student life
Sheila Meharry
sheila.meharry@wallawalla.edu 
(509) 527-2511
Fax: (509) 527-2674

Education

  • BA Pacific Union College, 1979; Theology
  • MDiv Andrews University, 1983
  • PhD Capella University, 2007; Organization and Management, Leadership Specialization

Previous Experience

  • Director of Outdoor Education and Leadership, Southern Adventist University, 2011–2017
  • Professor, School of Education and Psychology, Southern Adventist University, 2011–2017
  • Professor of church leadership, School of Religion, Southern Adventist University, 2000–2001
  • Ministerial director, British Columbia Conference, 1997–2000
  • Pastor, Penn Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1994–1997
  • Church planter, Rocklin Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1990–1994
  • Minister of evangelism and church growth, Carmichael Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1986–1990
  • Pastor, Anniston/Gadsden/Pell City District, 1984–1986
  • Minister of church growth and church planting, Birmingham Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1983–1984
  • Seminary student and 12-month intern with Mark Finley in Chicago, 1980–1983
  • Pastoral intern and Bible worker, Jackson Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1979–1980

Family

Doug and his wife, Lorraine, have three children: John (married to Lisa and living in the Netherlands), Stephen (a physical therapist in Chattanooga, Tenn.), and Elisabeth (a master’s student in British Columbia).

Jodi Wagner

Vice President
for university relations and advancement

(509) 527-2772
jodi.wagner@wallawalla.edu


Administrative assistant to the vice president for university relations and advancement
Renee Unterseher
renee.unterseher@wallawalla.edu 
(509) 527-2772
Fax: (509) 527-2397

Education

  • BA Walla Walla University, 1992; Mass Communication with emphasis in Journalism
    • Minors in Business and English

Previous Experience

  • Director of Client Planning and Strategy Services, Coffey Communications, 1998–2008
  • Client services representative, Coffey Communications, 1994–1998
  • Copy editor, Coffey Communications, 1992–1994

Family

Jodi and her husband, Jeff, have three children: Katie, Jenna, and Nikolas.

Pedrito Maynard-Reid

Assistant to the President
for diversity

Education

  • ATCL Trinity College of Music, 1969
  • LTCL Trinity College of Music, 1970
  • LRSM Royal Schools of Music, 1970
  • BTh West Indies College, 1970
  • MA Andrews University, 1973
  • MDiv Andrews University, 1975
  • ThD Andrews University, 1981
  • MTh Fuller Theological Seminary, 1995

Previous Experience

  • Vice president for spiritual life and mission and professor of biblical studies and missiology, Walla Walla University
  • Professor of biblical studies and missiology, Walla Walla University
  • Professor of music and religious studies, Northern Caribbean University
  • Professor of theology, Antillean University

Family

Pedrito and his wife, Violet, have two children: Pedrito II and Natasha.


Scott Ligman

Associate Vice President
for academic administration

(509) 527-2395
scott.ligman@wallawalla.edu 


Administrative assistant to the associate vice president for academic administration
Lorri Bays
lorri.bays@wallawalla.edu 
(509) 527-2395
Fax: (509) 527-2103

Education

  • PhD Oregon State University 

Previous Experience

  • Professor of biology, department chairman 

Family 

Scott and his wife, Nancy, have a son: Ryan.

Pamela Cress

Associate Vice President
for graduate studies

(509) 527-2421
pam.cress@wallawalla.edu 


Administrative assistant to the associate vice president for graduate studies
April Duffy
april.duffy@wallawalla.edu 
(509) 527-2421
Fax: (509) 527-2237

Education

  • BSW Walla Walla College
  • MSW Walla Walla University
  • PhD Andrews University

Previous Experience

  • Dean of the School of Social Work and Sociology 
  • Professor of social work 

Ken Vyhmeister

Associate Vice President
for financial administration

(509) 527-2391
ken.vyhmeister@wallawalla.edu


Executive assistant to the associate vice president for financial administration
Sharryl Toews
sharryl.toews@wallawalla.edu 
(509) 527-2402
Fax: (509) 527-2103

ken.vyhmeister@wallawalla.edu
(509) 527-2391

Education

  • BS La Sierra University, 1984; Accounting
  • BS La Sierra University, 1984; Management
  • MS Golden Gate University, 1994; Taxation
  • Certified Public Accountant certification (CPA), State of California, 1985

Previous Experience

  • Controller/director of accounting, Walla Walla University, 2005–2014
  • Corporate controller, Bren Investments, 1994–2005
  • Family office management, Elm Holdings Corporation, 1992–1994
  • Director of tax planning, Fluor Corporation, 1992
  • Tax manager, Ernst & Young, 1990–1992
  • Senior auditor, Price Waterhouse, 1984–1989

Family

Ken and his wife, Carmen, have five children: Jason, Chelsea, Hannah Leigh, Hannah Noelle, and Josiah.


Trevor Congleton

Associate Vice President 
for marketing and enrollment services

Education

  • MSW Walla Walla University, 2007
  • BSW Walla Walla University, 2006; Social Work with a minor in Religion

Previous Experience

  • Director for recruitment, Walla Walla University, 2010–2012
  • Director for guest relations, Walla Walla University, 2008–2010
  • School counselor, Walla Walla Valley Academy, 2007–2008

Troy Patzer

Associate Vice President 
for alumni and advancement services

(509) 527-2586
troy.patzer@wallawalla.edu


Administrative assistant to the associate vice president for alumni and advancement services
Amanda Eldevik
amanda.eldevik@wallawalla.edu 
(509) 527-2002

Education 

  • BS Walla Walla University, 1999; Business Administration 
  • MBA City University, 2004
  • Administrative certificate, NPUC in conjunction with Walla Walla University, 2008
  • Planned Giving & Trust Services certification

Previous Experience

  • Trust officer, Upper Columbia Conference, 2012–2014
  • Principal, Upper Columbia Academy, 2008–2012
  • Vice president of student administration/accountant, Upper Columbia Academy, 2004–2008
  • Treasurer/accountant, Upper Columbia Academy, 1999–2004

Family

Troy and his wife, Renée, have three daughters: Amélie, Elianne, and Lilia.

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