Two New Vice Presidents Join WWU Administrative Team

Walla Walla University (WWU) has welcomed Volker R. Henning as the new vice president for academic administration and Doug Tilstra as the new vice president for student life.

Leading Faith-Based Higher Education

Henning will provide administrative and academic leadership while coordinating all formal instructional services at WWU. He comes to WWU after 28 years at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tenn., where he was most recently associate vice president for academic administration. He previously taught journalism and communication and was dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at Southern. He has been a pastor in Florida as well as communication director for the Florida Conference.

“Dr. Henning’s experience with all the facets of faith-based higher education shines through, along with his commitment to help position WWU for continued and creative excellence in the future,” says John McVay, WWU president.

Henning says, “Education at a Seventh-day Adventist college or university should foster intellectual growth, encourage a vibrant and meaningful development of personal faith, enhance student understanding and appreciation of the arts and humanities, and equip them to participate in the blessings of service.”

Henning has a bachelor’s degree with majors in theology and communication from Southern Adventist University, a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich., a master’s degree in communication from the University of Central Florida, and a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Tennessee.

He fills the position vacated by Bob Cushman, who is now president of Pacific Union College in Angwin, Calif.

Mentoring and Student Development

Tilstra will oversee all areas of student life, including housing, spiritual and social programs, student missions, campus ministries, athletics, and more. He comes to WWU after 17 years at Southern Adventist University, where he was director of outdoor education and leadership and previously taught in the School of Religion at Southern. He has also served as a pastor in the Gulf States Conference, Northern California Conference and British Columbia Conference in Canada.

“Dr. Tilstra brings a passion for mentoring and developing students to his new role,” says McVay. “He possesses more than 30 years of valuable experience in leadership development and discipleship both in and out of the classroom. We look forward to the contributions he will make to Walla Walla University.”

Tilstra says that for many undergraduate students college is a big life transition. “Students begin to taste the freedom of independence, which for some can be overwhelming,” he says. “College students in 2017 face multiple societal deterrents and distractions to lives of deep faith and love. At a Christian college we can explore the Bible, culture, human/divine relationships and the tough questions of life in an atmosphere of faith and community. We can mentor students during a time of transition and invite them to consider God as part of the equation.”

Tilstra has a bachelor’s degree in theology from Pacific Union College, a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University, and a doctoral degree in organization and management from Capella University.

He fills the position vacated by David Richardson, who is now vice president for spiritual life and mission at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala.

Featured in: November 2017


Kim Strobel

Adventist Health project manager for religion, faith and mission