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Four Receive Awards at WAU’s Inaugural Visionaries Gala

Story by Grace Virtue; Photos by Charles Votaw
Published 9/25/13

James Bingham, Dikembe Mutumbo, Evelyn Bata and Rory Pullens

Four individuals of extraordinary accomplishments and service were recognized Sunday, September 22 at Washington Adventist University’s (WAU) Inaugural Visionaries Gala, held at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. The recipients of the Visionary Award were Dikembe Mutombo, an NBA legend, for excellence in humanitarian service; Evelyn Bata, PhD, educator, businesswoman, activist and philanthropist, for excellence in service to WAU; Rory Pullens, head of the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, D.C., for excellence in community transformation; and James Bingham, DMA, chair of the WAU music department, 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 leaders aim to improve all facets of its operations to become a thriving university in the competitive higher education market. In academics, the leaders aim 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.
For Weymouth Spence, president of the Takoma Park, Md., university, 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.
An enthusiastic Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union Conference and chair of the WAU Board of Trustees, echoed his sentiments. “WAU is just taking off,” he 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.” I appreciate the dedication of President Weymouth Spence, Provost Cheryl Kisunzu, CFO Patrick Farley, the board, faculty and staff who are moving our mission forward there.”

Weymouth Spence, WAU president, says the gala is a “watershed moment” in the university’s history.


Dikembe Mutumbo, an NBA legend, signs autographs.

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