McVay, Walla Walla U. President, to Relinquish Post, Return to Classroom
After six years, theologian wants to concentrate on teaching, mentoring
BY JODI WAGNER, vice president for marketing and enrollment services, Walla Walla University
After six years at the helm of Walla Walla University, president John McVay announced his plan to resign on July 1, 2012, to return to the classroom full time. He disclosed his plans on January 16.
“It has been an honor to serve as president of Walla Walla University,” he said. “The work has stretched and blessed both me and my wife, Pam. We are grateful for the partnership of such an able and committed leadership team, as well as the support of the wider community of faculty, staff and students,” he said.
McVay and his family will continue to reside in College Place, where he will serve as professor of theology at WWU, specializing in New Testament studies. “The opportunity to join the excellent team of professors in the School of Theology is energizing for me,” he said. “I look forward to serving WWU students as teacher, mentor and friend.”
McVay became the university’s 23rd president in 2006, when his first task was supervising the institution’s name change from Walla Walla College to Walla Walla University. He led strategic planning efforts for the university, earning a commendation from accrediting organizations, and instituted long-range budget planning processes. He championed renovations for the university’s School of Social Work and Sociology, School of Nursing (both in College Place and Portland, Ore., campuses), as well as the Marketing and Enrollment Services offices. In 2011 under his guidance, the university welcomed its largest freshman class in 17 years and yielded the highest freshman-to-sophomore retention rate in university history.
“John McVay has led Walla Walla University courageously through some challenging years. Because of his leadership, we are in a stronger position to meet the future,” says Ginger Ketting-Weller, vice president for academic administration. “His dedication to strengthening our students’ spiritual and academic experience, and to holding high standards for the work of education, has been a blessing. We are delighted that he’s chosen to stay with us in a capacity where he will continue to inspire students and colleagues on a daily basis.”
Prior to arrival at WWU, McVay taught at Pacific Union College (Angwin, Calif.) in the Religion Department and, for a time, served as senior pastor for the Pacific Union College Church. He has served as a pastor in Iowa and Georgia, and was the dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. He holds a master of divinity degree from Andrews University and a doctorate from the University of Sheffield in England. He is a specialist in the later Pauline Epistles and contributes regularly to professional conferences and publications.
“Walla Walla University has been exceptionally blessed under the capable leadership of Dr. McVay,” says Max Torkelsen, II, chairman of the WWU Board of Trustees and president of the North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. “He is a gifted educator with a unique combination of skills. We are deeply appreciative of his godly influence and steady hand in leading our university. Though I keenly regret his decision to relinquish administrative responsibilities, I am grateful that he will continue to make a valuable contribution in the classroom through teaching and research.”
Torkelsen said a presidential search committee will be formed shortly to begin the process of selecting a new president.
Founded in 1892, WWU is a private university affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. More than 1,830 undergraduate and graduate students attend the university, which offers more than 100 areas of study on five campuses.