News Column

Heritage University Welcomes Mimi Gardner Gates as Commencement Speaker

May 5, 2014

TOPPENISH, Wash., May 5 -- Heritage University issued the following news release:

Heritage University will host Mimi Gardner Gates as commencement speaker during its 32nd commencement exercise Saturday, May 10 at 10:00 a.m. at the Yakima Valley Sundome. Undergraduate and graduate students from the Yakima Valley and from regional sites in the Tri-Cities, Moses Lake and Seattle will participate in the ceremony. Overall, 272 students earned their degrees at Heritage this year.

Gardner Gates has had a long and distinguished career in the arts, including serving as the director of the Seattle Art Museum for 15 years until her retirement in 2009. Before that, she was director of the Yale University Art Gallery. Gardner Gates was the president of the Association of Art Museums, chaired the Federal Indemnity Panel at the National Endowment for the Arts and served as a member of the advisory board for the Getty Leadership Institute. Gates joined the board of Heritage University in the fall of 2013.

Gardner Gates is an adjunct faculty member for the University of Washington art department and serves on the boards of directors for UW's Jackson School of International Studies, the Northwest African American Museum and Copper Canyon Press. Gardner Gates holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University.

The University will present two students and two alumni awards at the commencement ceremony.

The Violet Lumley Rau Outstanding Alumni Awards will be presented to one undergraduate and one graduate alumnus. The undergraduate recipient is Petra Morales (B.A. in Social Work, 2009). After graduating from Heritage, Petra earned a Master of Social Work from Eastern Washington University, and is now a functional family therapist at Behavioral Health Services in Yakima.

The graduate alumni award recipient is Shawnta DiFalco. Shawnta graduated from Heritage University in 2008 with a Master in Teaching. She earned a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from Washington State University in 2013. She is now acting principal of Kiona Benton Junior and Senior High Schools.

Heritage will announce the recipients of the Board of Directors' Academic Excellence Award and the President's Council Student Award of Distinction during the ceremony.

The Yakima Valley Sundome is located at 1301 South Fair Ave. in Yakima. Parking is free. Additional information is available online at

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Source: Targeted News Service