Alumni Step Into Leadership Positions Cushman, Wagner, Bigger Named

November 01, 2012 | Rosa Jimenez

At the start of the new school year, Walla Walla University (WWU) filled key leadership positions with three alumni.

Robert Cushman was named the vice president for academic administration. Before his appointment, Cushman was chair of the university's biological sciences department, where he also taught biology classes. In addition, he has taught classes in the WWU School of Education and Psychology and in the general studies honors program.

As the university's chief academic officer, Cushman will be responsible for leadership in all academic programs. "Dr. Cushman has demonstrated outstanding leadership in his department, and we are confident that he will lead the academic activities of this university with professional expertise," says Steve Rose, WWU interim president.

Cushman is a 1975 WWU biology graduate. He also holds a doctoral degree in geology from the Colorado School of Mines and a master's degree in geology from Loma Linda University.

He has served at WWU since 2008, coming from Loma Linda University where he was the earth and biological sciences department chairman. Cushman and his wife, Judy, a school psychologist and a WWU mentor, have two children.

Also a WWU graduate, Jodi Wagner, who has been the vice president for marketing and enrollment services for the past four years, will be expanding her administrative role as she becomes vice president for university relations and advancement. She will now lead the areas of marketing, enrollment services, development and alumni relations.

Before coming to WWU, Wagner was the director of client planning and strategy services for 10 years at Coffey Communications, a health care publication company in Walla Walla, Wash.

Wagner majored in mass communications at WWU and completed concentrated studies in business and English, graduating in 1992. Wagner and her husband, Jeff, also a WWU graduate, have three children.

Darold Bigger, a 1966 and 1994 graduate, is the new assistant to the president. Bigger will serve half-time in the president's office and continue his work in the classroom as a social work and religion professor.

Bigger was a pastor for 22 years, more than half that time as the Walla Walla University Church senior pastor. He also served in the military and at retirement was the senior chaplain of the U.S. Navy Reserve. Bigger and his wife, Barbara, former WWU bookstore manager, have two children, one of whom died in 1996.