TAKOMA PARK, Md. (Sept. 25) - Washington Adventist University (WAU) Inaugural Visionaries Gala, held at the Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Md., September 22, is being hailed as a resounding success by Vice President for Advancement and University Relations, L. Roo McKenzie, Ed.D.
“I am extremely pleased,” McKenzie said. “We worked hard over the last few months and I prayed that it would be a resounding success—and it was.”
An enthusiastic Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and chair of the Washington Adventist University Board of Trustees, echoed McKenzie’s sentiments.
“WAU is just taking off,” Weigley said. “Two years ago, we had the highest enrollment in the history of the university, and we built our first new building in over 40 years. … This was an outstanding event to celebrate WAU's exceptional progress in recent years and to recast a renewed vision called "Vision 20/20”.
He added that he was deeply appreciative of “the dedication of President Weymouth Spence; Provost Cheryl Kisunzu; Vice President for Finance and Administration Patrick Farley; and the board, faculty and staff who are moving our mission forward there.”
For President Weymouth Spence, the Gala represents “a watershed moment in the history of Washington Adventist University.”
“We are signaling our intention to grow this university and to deepen our footprints as a higher education institution in the Washington, D.C. area and the country in general,” Spence said.
Highlight of the gala included presentation of the WAU Visionary Award to four individuals of extraordinary accomplishment and service: NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, for excellence in humanitarian service; educator, businesswoman, activist and philanthropist, Evelyn Bata, Ph.D., for excellence in service to Washington Adventist University; head of the Duke Ellington School for the Arts, Rory Pullens for excellence in community transformation; and chair of the WAU music department, James Bingham, Ph.D., for excellence in the Musical Arts and Humanities.
The gala is envisioned as an annual event to support Vision 2020, a blueprint for campus development over the next seven years. Guided by the motto, Vision 2020–Growing with Excellence, WAU aims to improve all facets of its operations to become a thriving university in the competitive higher education market. In academics, the University aims to exceed accreditation standards; develop a strong curriculum in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; expand service learning; conduct ongoing program review; make strategic reinvestment in the quality of programs; and promote and strengthen support services that reflect 21st century best practices.