Founded in 1859 as one of the first coeducational colleges in the United States, Valparaiso Male and Female College, the institution was reimagined as Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute in 1873, renamed Valparaiso College in 1900, and rechartered in 1906 as Valparaiso University. The modern era in University history began in 1925 with purchase of the institution by the Lutheran University Association, a group of clergy and church laity who saw a bright future for the University. Distinguished by its Lutheran heritage of scholarship, freedom and faith, the dreams of these modern founders continue to be fulfilled in Valparaiso University’s mission to forge “ a community of learning dedicated to excellence and grounded in the Lutheran tradition of scholarship, freedom, and faith, prepares students to lead and serve in both church and society.”
Institutional rankings have consistently been high. The University placed tied for fourth in the 2011/12 US News & World Report ranking of Best Regional Universities in the Midwest and is recognized in the new edition of "The Best 376 Colleges," published by the Princeton Review and released in August 2011, for offering a comprehensive educational experience that inspires students to create meaningful change as leaders in their professional and personal lives. Along with its Christopher Center Library, which houses 262,000 volumes, more than 78,000 journal titles (print and online) and provides extra computer lab and collaboration space as needed, including several adaptive technology workstations, the University prides itself of an average faculty-to-student ratio of 1:13--the ideal environment for student-focused teaching and learning.
With its nine vision statements addressing Academic Excellence, Lutheran Leadership, Student Experience, Diversity and Inclusion, Internationalization, Faculty/Staff, Regional Engagement, Economic Vitality, and Engaged Alumni, the University, which currently serves more than 4,000 domestic and international students with more than 70 programs in five colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, Nursing, Christ College (the honors college), is now forging its successful future. The College of Engineering is slated to play a major part in new campus initiatives.
The City of Valparaiso, a residential community with a population of 31,000, is well-known for its annual Popcorn Festival in honor of the late Orville Redenbacher, Popcorn mogul and former Valparaiso resident. Valparaiso is 15 miles from Merrillville's large Westfield Southlake Shopping Center, movie theaters, and restaurants complex; 15 miles south of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan; and 55 miles from the city of Chicago.