Tiffany Luehrs ’18 has been selected from a group of finalists for the incoming class of the prestigious Kemper Scholars Program. The program has been sponsored by the James S. Kemper Foundation of Chicago since 1948.

Luehrs, a first year international business and Mandarin Chinese major at Valparaiso University, is the daughter of Ron and Anne Luehrs of McLean, Va.

The Kemper Scholars Program’s mission is to prepare students for professional leadership positions through experiential workplace learning that applies what they learn in their academic programs. The Foundation believes undergraduate study of the liberal arts represents the best preparation for life and career. The program aims to promote education in the liberal arts while providing students opportunities for career exploration and practical experience.

More than 1,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students will participate in Valparaiso University’s Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17. The 2014–2015 academic year concludes yet another chapter of the University’s proven excellence in education, leadership, faith, and service.

“As we celebrate the end of another academic season, I am reminded of all the explorations, achievements, and discoveries that have occurred this year,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president. “I am grateful for all that our students, faculty, and staff do to support the mission of Valparaiso University and contribute to this exceptional place where passion meets purpose.”

Here’s a look back at highlights for Valparaiso University’s 2014–2015 academic year:

More than 90 percent of recent Valpo graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school for the 22nd straight year.


graph_bThe overall placement rate for 2013-2014 alumni is 94.5 percent, marking a 2.2 percent increase from last year. Each year, Valparaiso University’s Career Center sponsors nearly 100 career preparation opportunities including networking events, mock interviews, panel discussions and job fairs.


“Our alumni consistently achieve career and graduate school placement at extraordinary locations throughout the world and continue to exemplify the high standards of excellence we hold at Valparaiso University,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president. “Their success is a testament to Valpo’s intellectually rigorous and innovative education, as well as our gifted faculty and dedicated staff who provide the resources and mentoring necessary for graduates to thrive in work and life.”


graph_dHighlights of the 2015 Graduate Report include:

  • Graduates are working or studying in 37 states and 10 countries. Nearly 37 percent of 2013-2014 alumni work or attend graduate school in Indiana.
  • Ten respondents are involved in full-time service: three in AmeriCorps, one each in Amate House, City Year, Hayes Leonard Elementary School, Holden Village, Peace Corps, Soccer Without Borders, and a Field Hospital in Syria.
  • Three respondents are in the Armed Forces: two with the Air Force and one with the National Guard.
  • One respondent was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and is in Austria.




Valparaiso University has secured $149,109 from the Indiana Commission on Higher Education to fund a program to help more low-income students graduate from college.

Valpo’s Persistence and Success Program is open to 21st Century Scholars and Frank O’Bannon Scholars, many of whom are first-generation students. The program focuses on transition-to-college, academic and social support, career preparation, and financial literacy.

After successfully completing the program as freshmen, Valpo Persistence Scholars will be eligible for a $500 scholarship during their sophomore year. Each participant will benefit from personalized attention including:

  • One-on-one monthly meetings with a faculty or staff mentor
  • One-on-one appointment each semester with a Financial Aid advisor
  • Participation in SMART Connections – a peer mentoring program
  • Participation in Career Center activities and Strengths Quest Assessment
  • Enrollment in Strategies for Academic Success course
  • Opportunities to meet new friends and establish long-term relationships with faculty, staff, deans, advisors, and fellow students

The funding is part of a $1.8 million commitment from the Indiana Commission on Higher Education to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

Visit to learn about Valpo’s Persistence and Success Program.

IHE Founder Recognized for Commitment to Humane Education

Zoe Weil, president and co-founder of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE) based in Surry, Maine, will be awarded an honorary doctorate by Valparaiso University on May 16 for her commitment to creating a better world through humane education. IHE has trained and supported educators and advocates worldwide for the past 19 years to incorporate real-world sustainability and social justice issues into classrooms and communities.

As part of a three-day visit to the university, Weil will address Valpo graduates at a commencement awards banquet and gather with current humane education students and alumni. She will also lead a MOGO (Most Good Least Harm) hands-on workshop on May 15 at 3:30 p.m. for faculty. The workshop is open to the public, but seats are limited. Spaces may be reserved at the workshop by emailing

“It is an honor to be recognized by Valparaiso University,” Weil said. “I look forward to strengthening our partnership and growing the humane education program in a way that provides many more graduate students the opportunity to see the challenges of our time through a solutionary lens and gain the skills necessary to create a more humane and compassionate world.”

Valparaiso University will celebrate undergraduate May Commencement on Sunday, May 17, at 1:30 p.m., conferring degrees upon 642 undergraduate students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and Health Professions, and Christ College — The Honors College.

The keynote speaker is Jonathan T.M. Reckford, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI). Since 1976, HFHI has helped more than 5 million people construct, rehabilitate or preserve homes in more than 70 countries.

As Valparaiso University, a comprehensive Lutheran University, seeks to prepare women and men who will lead and serve throughout the world, Reckford serves as the ideal keynote speaker for the undergraduate commencement exercises.

“We are pleased to welcome Jonathan to Valparaiso University to deliver this year’s commencement address,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of Valparaiso University. “His commitment to leadership, service, and vocation throughout his life and career provides an exemplary model to our students of the kind of character and commitment we aspire our graduates to have.”

Through a partnership with Dalian Jiaotong University, Valparaiso University will equip the next generation of engineers with necessary cross-cultural communication skills while they develop technical engineering competence through established methods and approaches.

“As our world becomes more globalized and tech-dependent, it is essential that Valpo continues to pursue relationships with international universities such as Dalian,” said Jaishankar Raman, Ph.D., assistant provost for international affairs. “We are hopeful that this program will bridge cultural caps and fulfill a need to our partners around the world.”

With programs in China for 25 years, Valparaiso University already has a presence in the country and the essential understanding and contacts necessary to successfully launch the partnership with Dalian. The program differs from a joint degree program in that Valpo will not offer its degree in China. Rather, the venture creates opportunities for American and Chinese students to have essential experience collaborating across cultures and developing the communication skills they will need to succeed in an increasingly global economy.

Valparaiso University Professor Gilbert Meilaender, Ph.D., senior research professor of theology, was invited to Princeton University to present the Charles E. Test, M.D., Distinguished Lecture. He was also honored at the Princeton University conference “Politics, Theology, and the Limits of Ethics” celebrating his work in bioethics.

Professor Meilaender’s lecture, titled “Posthuman or Perfected Human?: Biotechnical Enhancement and the History of Redemption,” reflected on a significant bioethics topic concerning attempts to enhance human nature, either by enabling superior performance, altering mood, or prolonging life. He examined how one should think about these attempts in light of God’s threefold action in creation, reconciliation, and redemption.

The daylong conference, themed “Politics, Theology, and the Limits of Ethics,” included discussion panels who addressed questions of general importance in Christian ethics. The speakers came from a variety of academic institutions, including Notre Dame, Indiana University, John Carroll University, Yale, Princeton, St. Olaf, and Georgetown.

“I have never spent much time thinking about what one might call ‘my work,’ ” Professor Meilaender said. “But if it could serve as the occasion for an academic conference as good as this one, it can’t have been all bad.”

The author of several books and articles in the field of Christian ethics, Professor Meilaender began his teaching career at Valparaiso University in 1996, where he held the Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics. He previously taught at the University of Virginia and at Oberlin College. He is a fellow of the Hastings Center, was a member of the president’s council on bioethics from 2002 to 2009, and has served on the board of directors of the Society of Christian Ethics and as associate editor of Religious Studies Review, consultant editor of Studies in Christian Ethics, and associate editor of the Journal of Religious Ethics.

Professor Meilaender holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and a Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.

WHAT: “Hiawatha: An Evening of Magic Lantern and Early Cinema Entertainment” features lantern slides and musical accompaniment honoring Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha.”

In 1903, Katharine Ertz-Bowden, an 1897 Valpo alumna, and her husband, Charles, captured images of a Hiawatha pageant based on Longfellow’s poem. The illustrated lectures were presented as “A Pictorial Story of Hiawatha” from 1904 to 1908 and embraces Ojibwe culture.

The presentation is preceded by a Hiawatha-themed performance by the American Magic Lantern Theater Company.

WHEN: May 5, 7 – 9:30 p.m.

WHERE: Harre Union Ballrooms, Valparaiso University

The Committee to Enhance Learning and Teaching at Valparaiso University has selected Robert Clark, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, and Douglas Tougaw, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering, as the recipients of the Valparaiso University Excellence in Teaching Award for 2015–2016. The awards recognize a number of outstanding undergraduate faculty members each year for general teaching excellence, with particular attention to course development, pedagogy, and mentoring/advising.

Professor Clark earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. He believes that being a mentor is a critical part of his vocation and an integral part of his identity as a teacher-scholar both inside and outside of the classroom. Bridging the gap between professor and student, Professor Clark invests time in listening to his students and offers personalized feedback to help them grow personally and professionally in and beyond college.

Professor Tougaw earned his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1995 and his MBA from Valparaiso University in 2005. Dedicated to researching and implementing the best educational tools and experiences for his students, Professor Tougaw places an emphasis on active learning in his courses. He applies a “spiral of learning” method, giving students the opportunity to gain an experience, reflect on that experience, generalize and abstract the lessons learned, and then transfer their knowledge to other contexts.

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