Heritage University is expanding its presence and reach in the Tri-Cities, opening a new location in downtown Kennewick and offering classes to freshmen.
The new site is in the former Tri-City Herald building at 333 W. Canal Drive.
Heritage will use about 10,000 to 12,000 square feet on the second floor of the building, with classrooms, offices, a reception lobby, study spaces and a break area.
The Toppenish-based university has operated a regional site on the Columbia Basin College campus in Pasco for 20 years, offering classes to juniors and seniors completing bachelor’s degrees in education, social work, criminal justice, psychology and accounting.
With the new Kennewick location, Heritage will expand those offerings to freshmen and sophomores and add business administration as a degree option.
Martin Valadez, director of the regional site, said he expects the first freshman class to number about 50 students. They’ll come on board for the fall 2023 academic year, which starts Aug. 21.
Heritage’s total enrollment is about 800 students.
Students in the Tri-Cities will not only have access to the six degree programs offered locally, but also to the nearly 40 offered in total by the university, officials said.
“Students will have the opportunity to transfer seamlessly between the Tri-Cities and Toppenish, and some classes may be offered in a hybrid format where classes are delivered both in-class and online between both locations. The linkage between Toppenish and Tri-Cities will present a tremendous range of possibilities for students to study in their field of interest,” said Andrew Sund, Heritage president, in a statement.
Meanwhile, the university plans to continue its partnership with CBC.
While Heritage likely won’t need the roughly five-office suite it’s been using at the Pasco college, officials want to continue offering classes to transfer students on campus and may have a transfer specialist on site, Valadez said.
In a statement, Sund said Heritage and CBC’s relationship has been mutually beneficial for 20 years and that will continue — and grow and strengthen.
“We can work together to serve the people in the Tri-Cities who come from many backgrounds. Providing more choices for students is always better in higher education,” he said. “Our goal is to increase the total number of students who graduate from college. Together we can increase the total college-going student population to benefit the entire community.”
The expansion is a continuation of Heritage’s mission to make college accessible, Valadez said.
“We want individuals to be able to pursue their higher education dreams, despite background, geography, zip code, family situation and all that. There are students for whom we’re a really good fit. We want to make sure they know about us,” he said.
Stephanie Button, executive director of the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership, said she’s thrilled about Heritage’s expansion into downtown.
“This is an incredibly good thing for downtown Kennewick. (The downtown group's) mission is to strengthen and enrich the downtown experience by fostering economic and creative opportunities with our partners. We work toward building a diverse, inclusive, and vibrant community rooted in the rich heritage of downtown Kennewick. Heritage University’s pedagogical embrace of transformational student-centered education that cultivates leadership in its students compliments our mission,” she said.
She said she hopes students and faculty take advantage of the downtown amenities.
“They are within short walking distance of delicious and unique food spots. They will have various trendy coffee shops to choose from for caffeine and collaborative places to meet for study groups. We also hope they find inspiration for project-based learning opportunities with the small businesses and local organizations that call downtown Kennewick home," she said.
Pasco investors Mike Detrick Sr., his son Mike Detrick Jr. and their wives bought the former Herald building for $3.9 million in October 2019 with plans to transform it into multi-tenant office space.
The McClatchy Co., the Herald’s California-based parent company, invested more than $9 million to build the new building and renovate the production facilities in 2004. The Tri-City Herald, which has downsized its staff significantly since the building opened, now leases a modest office in the Southridge area of Kennewick.
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