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Former Seattle Art Museum director to address Heritage University grads

TOPPENISH – Heritage University will host Mimi Gardner Gates as commencement speaker during its 32nd commencement exercise this coming Saturday at 10 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. She 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. Gardner 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 University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies, the Northwest African American Museum and Copper Canyon Press. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University.

Heritage University will present two student and two alumni awards at the commencement ceremony.

The Violet Lumley Rau Outstanding Alumni Awards will be presented to one undergraduate and one graduate alumna. The undergraduate recipient is Petra Morales (B.A. in Social Work, 2009). After graduating from Heritage, she 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, who graduated from Heritage University in 2008 with a Masters degree in Teaching. She earned a Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration from Washington State University in 2013. She is the acting principal of Kiona Benton junior and senior high schools, and an officer candidate in the Washington National Guard.

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

The Yakima Valley SunDome is located at 1301 South Fair Ave. in Yakima. Parking is free.

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