WHO: Valparaiso University and the Special Olympics of Indiana come together for the 2015 Polar Plunge, an event raising awareness and funds to sponsor the Special Olympics throughout the state. This is the fifth year the University will host the event.

WHAT: The Polar Plunge invites participants who have raised $75 or more to jump into a pool of freezing water. Participants are encouraged to dress up in costumes and are invited to warm up at the After Splash Bash party, located at the Hill Top Gym. Complimentary hot food and beverages will be available for Plungers, with a $5 fee for guests and observers.

All funds raised through the Polar Plunge go toward training and athletic competition for more than 11,000 Special Olympics Indiana athletes. Last year, the Polar Plunge season raised more than $580,000 for Special Olympics Indiana. The event is open to the public and free to watch.

Participants are encouraged to pre-register online at soindiana.org.

Valparaiso University presents “Realizing the Dream in Northwest Indiana: A Dialogue On Civil Rights In The Age Of Ferguson” on Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Harre Union Ballroom.

Hosted by Heath Carter, assistant professor of history, the event offers an opportunity for community members to join Valpo students, faculty, and staff in an open and respectful discussion about the current state of civil rights.

“Even as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of so many civil rights milestones, we find that questions about race and racial justice are not just the stuff of history,” Carter said. “Across the nation, including right here in Northwest Indiana, these issues remain in fact profoundly contemporary. I am delighted to welcome leaders from across this region to Valparaiso University for an important conversation about civil rights in the age of Ferguson.”

WHO: Valpo welcomes prospective college students, parents, and their families to visit with more than 100 representatives from public and private colleges and universities.

WHAT: Learn what it takes to get into college, what campus life is like, how the financial aid process works, and which academic offerings are available. Admission is free.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 4, 6:30–8 p.m.

WHERE: Harre Union Ballrooms, Valparaiso University

CONTACT: Visit valpo.edu/regionalcollegefair for more information.

WHO: Valparaiso University’s international studies department presents Juan Cole: “The Iraq War and the Origins of ISIS.”

Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three and a half decades, Cole has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. He is the author of “The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East” and has appeared on PBS’ Lehrer News Hour, ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, the Today Show, Anderson Cooper 360, and The Colbert Report.

WHAT: Juan Cole’s lecture is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available.

WHEN: Monday, Feb. 9, 6:30 – 9 p.m.

WHERE: Harre Union Ballroom A & B

WHO: Valparaiso University’s Law School in conjunction with the provost’s office and Multicultural Programs presents Tim Wise: “But What about Reverse Racism Against White People!?” The Rise of Post-Racial Politics And The Retreat From Racial Equity.

WHAT: Tim Wise is among the nation’s most prominent antiracist essayists and educators. In his lecture Wise argues against colorblindness and for deeper color-consciousness in both public and private practice.

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 5, 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Harre Union Ballroom B

WHO: The physics and astronomy department at Valparaiso University presents astrophysicist Jennifer Wiseman.

Wiseman received her Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University in 1995. She is a senior astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where she serves as senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope. She studies star forming regions of our galaxy using radio, optical, and infrared telescopes, with a particular interest in molecular cloud cores, protostars, and outflows.

WHAT: Wiseman presents the latest discoveries of astronomy in “Galaxies, Stars, Planets, and Life: A Bountiful Universe,” including planets by the thousands outside our solar system and an expanding universe being pushed apart by a force only vaguely understood as dark energy. She will discuss society’s responses to the uncovering of a universe seemingly poised for life as the entire history of the universe shows a majestic transformation over time from energy into heavier elements, stars, galaxies, and environments needed for advanced life.

She will present an overview of the Hubble Space Telescope mission in her second lecture, “The Hubble Space Telescope: 25 Years of Discovery,” including the key scientific advancements and unexpected discoveries it has enabled. Launched in 1990, this orbiting observatory has effectively changed the textbooks, as astronomers have used Hubble to transform our understanding of the solar system, galaxies, and the history of the universe. Wiseman will discuss the unique role that humans, especially astronauts, have played in making this observatory a success.

Both lectures are free and open to the public.

WHEN: “Galaxies, Stars, Planets, and Life: A Bountiful Universe” is Thursday, Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m., and “The Hubble Space Telescope: 25 Years of Discovery” is Friday, Jan. 30, 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Both lectures are in Neils Science Center 234, Valparaiso University.

Valparaiso University will host the 62nd annual Northwestern Indiana Science and Engineering Fair Feb. 21 in the Harre Union Ballroom, bringing together students from schools in Porter, LaPorte, Starke, Jasper, Newton, and Pulaski counties. The event highlights the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through exciting events for middle school and high school students.

Volunteers are sought from the community to judge the competition in various categories. Professional expertise and experience qualifies community members to be judges.

“An Evening with Natalie Cole” on April 11 caps 30th annual event

Multiple Grammy Award-winning recording artist Natalie Cole is the featured artist for Valparaiso University’s 30th annual Jazz Fest. The dynamic performance will take place April 11 at 8:30 p.m. in the Athletics–Recreation Center at Valparaiso University.

“Natalie Cole’s unique blend of rhythm and blues with jazz is emblematic of the variety and quality of music Valpo’s Jazz Festival has brought to the stage for 30 years,” said Jeffrey C. Brown, festival producer and founder. “She validates, mirrors, and elevates hundreds of students and professional musicians who have made this festival what it is!”

An accomplished R&B and jazz vocalist and the daughter of legendary crooner Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole will perform hits from her new, Latin Grammy Award-nominated album “Natalie Cole En Español,” as well as classics such as “This Will Be” and “Unforgettable … With Love.”

Features residency by Actors From The London Stage

Christ College, the Honors College of Valparaiso University, presents the second annual Shakespeare Week at Valpo, featuring a weeklong residency by the Actors From The London Stage.

Shakespeare Week at Valpo will showcase a series of events, performances, and workshops, sponsored by Christ College, in collaboration with the Departments of English and Theatre.

Week of events begins Thursday, Jan. 15

For more than 20 years, Valparaiso University has celebrated the life and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr., and this tradition continues with a weeklong celebration Jan. 15–23.

The 2015 events honor the theme “Hope, Action, Change” through speakers, presenters and activities that promote the respect and value of diversity on campus as well as within the broader community through dialogue and discourse, art and music and food and faith.

Events include:

  • Artistic works by Northwest Indiana students on display in the Harre Union. A reception and awards ceremony, featuring a performance by local folk band Shades of Gray, is Thursday, Jan. 15, 5 – 7 p.m., in the Harre Union.
  • Community Conversations focusing on Ishmael Beah’s novel “Radiance of Tomorrow” throughout Valparaiso on Friday, Jan. 16, noon – 1 p.m. Visit valpo.edu/mlk/conversations for a complete list of venues and to register.
  • A Martin Luther King Jr. Day Convocation Service at the Chapel of the Resurrection on Monday, Jan. 20, at 10 a.m. The service celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and features keynote speaker Ishmael Beah, award-winning author of “A Long Way Gone.” In addition, the Martin Luther King Jr. Award will be presented to Larry Baas, professor of political science and international relations, Zahra Nwabara, director of admissions for the Law School, and the men’s soccer team and their coach, Mike Avery.
  • A luncheon featuring a Q&A with keynote speaker Ishmael Beah following the Convocation Service in the Harre Union Ballrooms. Luncheon tickets cost $12 and are available at the Harre Union Welcome desk or online at valpo.edu/union for will-call pickup.
  • Several focus sessions featuring a variety of topics, including a session with Richard Morrisroe, a Civil Rights activist who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. Visit valpo.edu/mlk/sessions for a complete list of focus sessions.
  • A closing program featuring Joanne Bland on Monday, Jan. 19, at 4 p.m. in the Christopher Center Community Room. Bland is the co-founder and former director of the Naitonal Voting Rights Museum in Selma and began her civil rights activism in the early 1960s, marching on “Bloody Sunday,” “Turn Around Tuesday,” and the first leg of the successful march from Selma to Montgomery.

The Law School will also host several events at Wesemann Hall. The annual “Talk to a Lawyer Today” event is Monday, Jan. 19, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. On Thursday, Jan. 22, at 4 p.m., Terry Smith, of DePaul University College of Law, will speak on “From King to Obama: Cycles of Backlash and the Fire Next Time.” The MLK Mock Congressional Debate, focusing on the riots and protestor experiences related to events in Feruson, Mo., is Friday, Jan. 23, 4 – 6 p.m.

For additional information, visit valpo.edu/mlk.

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