Search committee established

WWU establishes Presidential Search Committee


Walla Walla University’s Board of Trustees has announced the establishment of a 13-member Presidential Search Committee to immediately begin the work of naming the institution’s 24th president, following the announcement that current President John McVay will retire at the end of the 2023–2024 academic year.

The search committee’s members represent the university’s key stakeholder groups, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, Board of Trustees members, and administrators from the North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (NPUC). Six of the members are Walla Walla University alumni, five are currently employed at the university, seven are members of the university’s Board of Trustees, and one attends as a student.

Serving on the Presidential Search Committee are:

  • Andres Anaya, WWU junior product design major
  • Johanna Attoh, WWU associate professor of economics
  • Kellie Bond, WWU associate professor of English
  • Columbus Candies, Jr., WWU Board of Trustees member and physical therapist/healthcare entrepreneur
  • Pamela Cress, WWU vice president for Academic Administration
  • Paul Dybdahl, WWU professor of mission and New Testament
  • John Freedman, WWU Board of Trustees chair and NPUC president
  • Keith Hallam, WWU Board of Trustees member and NPUC vice president for education
  • David Jamieson, WWU Board of Trustees member and Upper Columbia Conference president
  • Bill McClendon, WWU Board of Trustees member and NPUC vice president of administration
  • Joyce Newmyer, WWU Board of Trustees member, president of Adventist Health Oregon, and chief people officer for Adventist Health
  • Paul Rhynard, WWU Board of Trustees member and chief executive officer of Wilkinson Baking Company
  • Paul Starkebaum, WWU associate dean of accountability

The Presidential Search Committee will be led by John Freedman, and it will be supported by work from Faith Search Partners, a nationally-known search firm that has years of experience working with Adventist colleges and universities. Faith Search Partners will assist in identifying candidates, gather and synthesize information, and work with committee members to match the best candidate with the university.

“Faith Search Partners will play a crucial role in meeting with various stakeholders and engaging with the university’s community to understand Walla Walla University’s leadership needs,” says Freedman. “Overall, this will be a carefully structured, formal search process. I expect that the involvement of the Presidential Search Committee, the WWU Board of Trustees, the Board’s Governance Committee, and various university leaders will ensure a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to identifying the best candidates for this pivotal role.”

Freedman adds that he expects the process to be completed by May.

The Presidential Search Committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 23, 2024, at 7 p.m. Updates in the search process will be provided at

“Your prayers are not only welcomed, but cherished, as we seek divine guidance in making decisions that will shape the future of our university,” Freedman says. “Together, let us uplift this process, asking for wisdom, discernment, and the alignment of God’s will with our actions.”

Published Jan. 23, 2024.

WWU seal on Centennial Green stage is dusted in snow.