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McVay Responds to Reappointment As WWU President


A Facebook group calling itself “Concerned Supporters of WWU” posted an email from the President’s Office distributed to Walla Walla University faculty and staff. The message from interim president Steve Rose inclded a Q&A with Dr. John McVay, Walla Walla’s returning president. The email appears in its entirety below, as posted on the Facebook page.


“Greetings, Walla Walla University campus family!

As you may know, on July 16, 2012, the Presidential Search Committee recommended that the Walla Walla University Board of Trustees invite Dr. John McVay to be WWU’s President. The announcement that Dr. McVay accepted the Board’s invitation brings clarity for the university’s future, but also some questions. In this President’s Letter, I thought it might be helpful to share Dr. McVay’s thoughts on how he reached this decision, and what he envisions for WWU’s future.

Steve Rose
Interim President


The Presidency: A Conversation With Dr. John McVay

WWU: Last January you announced plans to return to the classroom after serving as President for six years. Why did you change your mind?

McVay: We at WWU have been on a journey. We’re not at the same place we were back in December when I went to our Board Chair and made my plans known. And I am not at the same place either. I’ve had months to mull and pray. And inevitably part of those reflections have centered on “What would I do different if I had the opportunity to tackle the assignment again?”

Then, when I received the Board of Trustees’ invitation several days ago, in the context of a deeply personal spiritual and emotional journey, I felt a fresh call to the challenge of being WWU’s president.

While I would have been happy—thrilled, even—to remain in the School of Theology, there is an undeniable draw to return to the presidency. However, I do intend to remain engaged in some research and writing projects that are important to me, and to be an active participant in WWU’s academic mission.

I look forward to serving WWU for some time. And I hope to do so with energy and verve.

WWU: Given your time to reflect and your sense of a ‘fresh call to the challenge,’ how will your second term be different?

McVay: It is my intention that it be much more focused on four priorities that I believe are crucial for the next stage in our institutional journey:

1) Vision, mission and strategic planning;

2) “Friendraising” and fundraising;

3) Working closely with the vice presidents;

4) Communing and communication. By “communing” I mean being present on WWU campuses as number one fan and becoming even more closely acquainted with our faculty, staff and students. I know that I will hear many great stories to share.

Additionally, I am a fan of Dr. Alex Bryan, and I believe that what he has brought to WWU over the past few years has been a crucial part of the good success we have experienced. His participation in Cabinet revealed his many strengths, including a gift for visioning a transforming and robust future for WWU that brings our Seventh-day Adventist commitments into creative engagement with the wider culture. I envision a more formal role for Dr. Bryan at WWU that draws on this strength.

Also, our recent experience with the presidential search offers lessons to be learned. I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees to reflect on those lessons, and to develop policies and procedures that ensure we are moving toward best practice in our institutional governance.

Finally, we are at an amazing moment of opportunity, by far the most exciting moment that we have experienced in the last few years. Our administrative team has been very stable over the past five years. However, a variety of circumstances have conspired—much as it did at the beginning of my term as the 23rd President of Walla Walla College—to bring quite a turn over. This is a loss, but also an opportunity. In time we will see a new, strong team emerge with fresh energy and talents to help us take full advantage of this moment of opportunity.

WWU: Enrollment looks strong. Our administrative searches are wrapping up. What can we look forward to?

McVay: A time of fresh reflection on the mission and priorities of WWU. Some significant changes in the way we do things. The emergence of new faces leading WWU. Just the sorts of things you would expect when a new president comes to town . . . or an old one returns with fresh energy and focus.”

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