Valparaiso University has named Andrea D. Welch, Ph.D., as executive director for retention and student success, effective June 26. In this role, Welch will collaborate with administrators, students, faculty, staff and families to establish, coordinate and implement retention and student success initiatives at the University.

“I am delighted to welcome Andrea to the University as the inaugural executive director for retention and student success and look forward to working closely with her as Valpo sharpens its focus on retention and overall student success,” said Stacey A. Miller, Ed.D., assistant provost for inclusion and student success services. “Andrea’s extensive professional experience, servant-leadership style and intense passion as an advocate for student success is an ideal fit for this position. I am confident she will bring renewed energy to the University community as we continue to advance our retention goals and promote the success of each student, domestic and international.”

The North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) recently announced the winners of the 2017 Awards of Distinction, Silver Medal and Laurel Wreath Awards. Eric Smith ’17, a recent Valpo graduate and member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, is one of six undergraduate fraternity men in the nation to be honored as a recipient of the Undergraduate Award of Distinction. Carolyn E. Whittier, Ph.D., assistant dean for Greek Life, Leadership, and Volunteer Programs, is in the inaugural class of recipients of the NIC Advisor Award of Distinction.

The Undergraduate Award of Distinction recognizes Smith for his excellence in leadership and service and as an embodiment of the values and standards of Sigma Phi Epsilon and the NIC — a true exemplar of the fraternal experience.

“It is truly an honor to have a student from the Valparaiso University fraternity community honored with an NIC Award of Distinction,” Whittier said. “The Undergraduate Award of Distinction is the highest honor that the fraternity industry can give to an undergraduate member, and Eric is truly deserving. His commitment to excellence and to advancing the wonderful work of the Valparaiso University fraternity community has been second to none. Eric is the very best that fraternity has to offer, and it has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve as his advisor for the last four years.”

Alina Virnelson ’20 and Mark Young ’20 have been selected from a group of national finalists to become two of the 16 students in this year’s incoming class of the prestigious Kemper Scholars Program. The James S. Kemper Foundation of Chicago has been supporting Kemper Scholars since the program’s inception in 1948.

Alina Virnelson, a Christ College — The Honors College student and business and marketing major, is the daughter of Michelle and Wesley Virnelson from Parma, Ohio. Alina is a news broadcaster on WVUR, a library services assistant and member of Gamma Phi Beta.

Mark Young, a Christ College — The Honors College student and management major with a minor in computer science, is the son of Diane and Joel Young from St. Louis, Missouri. Mark is a member of the Student Senate and a photographer and videographer with the integrated marketing and communications department at Valparaiso University.

Valparaiso University president Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., announced today that the University has accepted an invitation to join the Missouri Valley Conference on July 1, 2017. The Crusaders will begin competing for MVC championships in the 2017–2018 academic year.

“We are thrilled to join the Missouri Valley Conference,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president. “This is an important step forward for all of our athletics programs and an opportunity to advance the national standing of Valparaiso University. The Valley is one of the nation’s most historic athletic conferences, and we look forward to actively engaging with its outstanding member institutions and Valley leadership to strengthen both the conference and Valpo Athletics.”

Valpo brings a strong tradition across its athletic programs to the Missouri Valley Conference, most notably its success in men’s basketball. The Crusaders have captured 14 league regular season titles over the last 23 years and have made nine trips to the NCAA Tournament. Over the last three seasons, Valpo has won 82 games — a total that ranks among the top-15 nationally. The program has enjoyed the two winningest seasons in program history in the last three years and has appeared in the postseason all three years, including a run to the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden in 2015–2016.

Taylor Williams ’17 M.A., who earned her master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Valparaiso University during its Graduate School Commencement ceremony on May 20, will spend the 2017–2018 academic year in South Korea thanks to a prestigious Fulbright English teaching assistant grant.

“We are very pleased to see Taylor’s talent, hard work and dedication recognized by the Fulbright Program,” said Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This honor is a confirmation of the exceptional education students receive at Valparaiso University, and I am confident she will represent us well in her future endeavors.”

Williams received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia with majors in media studies and women, gender and sexuality studies. She was first introduced to TESOL while substitute teaching for a year and joined Valparaiso University to pursue both her interest in the TESOL master’s program as well as the opportunity to be a graduate assistant softball coach.

Spring commencement caps another exciting year for the Valparaiso University community as it continues its legacy in education, leadership, faith and service. The University along with its students and faculty marked achievements during the 2016–2017 academic year in the classroom and beyond.

“As our year comes to a close, I am grateful for the dedication and enthusiasm our students and faculty exhibit each day and for the many achievements our community has made this year,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president.

The Institute for Leadership and Service at Valparaiso University has selected 20 Valpo current and graduating students for Calling and Purpose in Society (CAPS) Fellowships during summer 2017.

Recipients are selected from a competitive pool of applicants and will complete internships with organizations dedicated to service and leadership for eight to 10 weeks during the summer.  The CAPS Fellows Program helps Valpo students develop their sense of Calling and Purpose in Society through intensive experiential-learning opportunities accompanied by significant reflection.

Opening Reception is May 21

Valparaiso University’s Brauer Museum of Art will premiere its summer exhibitions, featuring new acquisitions to its permanent collection as well as works by the Duneland Plein Air Painters, with an opening reception on Sunday, May 21, at 2 p.m. in the Center for the Arts on Valparaiso University’s campus. The exhibitions run from May 19 to Aug. 6.

The Wehling, McGill and West Galleries will display new acquisitions to the Brauer Museum’s permanent collection, which boasts more than 3,800 works of art from the mid-19th century to the present.

Valparaiso University’s literary journal, The Cresset, received four “Best of the Christian Press” Awards at an April 28 ceremony in Chicago, including the first-place Award of Excellence in the “Best in Class” category for print journals.

Presented by the Associated Church Press at the organization’s annual convention, the awards honor the finest work of religiously affiliated North American newspapers, newsletters, magazines, journals, news services and online publications.

Valparaiso University announces that Nicholas E. Denysenko, Ph.D., will join its faculty as the Jochum Professor and Chair, effective Jan. 3, 2018.

Denysenko, an ordained deacon, has been a faculty member in theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles since 2010, where he has served as the director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute since 2011. As director of the Institute, Denysenko developed events to educate the general public on issues concerning ecumenical dialogue, bringing together the local community in shared fellowship.

The Emil and Elfriede Jochum Chair, a University professorship established through a gift from Emil Jochum, supports the study of Christian values in public and professional life. The Chair will work to bring scholarship or other forms of creative work to bear on the many dimensions of the Christian calling in a complex society and to engage students in such exploration whenever possible.

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