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 John McVay, current president, 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 North Pacific Union administrators.

Six of the members are alumni of WWU, 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 North Pacific Union 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, and Adventist Health Oregon network president and Adventist Health corporate chief people officer
  • Paul Rhynard, WWU board of trustees member
  • 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 executive search firm that has years of experience working with Adventist colleges and universities.

FaithSearch Partners will assist in identifying candidates, gather and synthesize information, and work with committee members to match the best candidate with the university.

“FaithSearch Partners will play a crucial role in meeting with various stakeholders and engaging with the university’s community to understand WWU's leadership needs,” Freedman said. “Overall, this will be a carefully structured, formal search process. I expect 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 added that he expects the process to be completed by May 2024.

The presidential search committee’s first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 23. Updates in the search process will be provided wallawalla.edu/president.

“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 said. “Together, let us uplift this process, asking for wisdom, discernment and the alignment of God’s will with our actions.”

Founded in 1892, Walla Walla University is an institution of higher education affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The institution has more than 1,300 students across its four campuses located throughout the Pacific Northwest. Walla Walla University is fully accredited and offers more than 100 areas of study in liberal arts, professional and technical programs.

Featured in: March/April 2024