On Sunday, May 15, at 1:30 p.m., Valparaiso University will celebrate undergraduate commencement, one of three commencement ceremonies held throughout the weekend, conferring degrees upon nearly 700 undergraduate students.

The undergraduate commencement speaker is Arne M. Sorenson, president and chief executive officer of Marriott International Inc., a global leading lodging company with more than 4,000 lodging properties in more than 80 countries and territories with a revenue that exceeded $14 billion in the 2015 fiscal year. He is just the third CEO of the company and the first person outside the Marriott family to head the company.

“We are honored to welcome Mr. Sorenson to Valparaiso to celebrate Commencement with us this May,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of the University. “During a challenging economic time, Mr. Sorenson has been innovative in his long-term strategy for Marriott. His leadership skills combined with his strength of character will resonate with our graduates and guide them as they pursue their passions.”

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 2015-2016 academic year in the classroom and beyond.

“As our year comes to a close, I admire the dedication to learning, leadership, and service that our students and faculty exhibit every day,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president. “With this passion for excellence so present in our community, I am grateful for the achievements and discoveries made each day at this very special place.”

Indiana Campus Compact honored Cogan Blackmon ’16, of Anderson, Ind., with the Richard J. Wood Student Community Commitment Award for his established history of service, leadership and action in the community.

“For Cogan, all of life — inside and outside the classroom — is an act of service to the community,” Elizabeth Lynn, director of the Institute of Leadership and Service and adjunct professor of humanities and civic life, wrote in her recommendation letter. “Cogan’s impact is truly that of a multiplier, creating platforms and opportunities for his peers to engage, and moving forward and out of the way to let others also lead, while he looks for new ways to serve.”

Campus Compact honored Angelys Torres ’18 as a 2016 Newman Civic Fellow for outstanding civic engagement — offering a crucial voice and demonstrating leadership for students on Valpo’s campus and in the broader community.

“At once intellectual and active, practical and personable, a leader and a servant, Angelys Torres is the kind of student Valparaiso University is proud to call its own,” Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of the University, wrote in his recommendation letter. “Angelys is a leader in the classroom, on campus, in the city of Valparaiso, and in her home community of Chicago. She constantly strives to understand and improve the world around her by drawing on the wisdom of the humanities, the theoretical tools of the social sciences, and her own capacity to organize and lead others.”

More than 90 percent of recent Valpo graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school for the 23rd straight year.

Overall Placement Rate: All Colleges - 92.3%, Arts and Sciences - 91.2%, Business - 89.0%, Engineering - 95.3%, Nursing and Health Professions - 94.8%The overall placement rate for 2014-2015 alumni is 92.6 percent. Each year, Valparaiso University’s Career Center sponsors nearly 100 career preparation opportunities including networking events, mock interviews, panel discussions and professional development workshops. In addition, the Career Center hosts two major career fairs, both with more than 100 employers in attendance.

“Our graduates leave Valpo prepared for a world of infinite possibilities,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president. “Valpo students and alumni combine an exceptional education with virtues of integrity and character and make a tremendous impact on the world, through rewarding careers and lives of purpose.

WHAT: Valpo’s Geography and Travel Club will host an Earth Day Tree Planting Dedication. Zach Mahan, club president, will speak on the everyday importance of Earth Day.

Re-established in  fall 2012, Geography Club (now Geography and Travel Club) hosts activities and events such as the annual Geography Bowl team competition, Geocaching, Free Food for Finals in the fall semester, and trips to the local area and Chicago.

WHEN: Friday, April 22, 3 p.m.

WHERE: On Valpo’s campus, between the Center for the Arts and Kallay-Christopher Hall.

CONTACT: Email geoclub@valpo.edu or like Valpo Geography & Travel Club on Facebook.

The Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University will premiere its spring exhibitions, which run from April 13 through May 8 and feature artwork in a variety of media. New exhibitions include works by Valpo art students and faculty, “Paintings and Drawings by Kartik Trivedi,” and “Sacred Spaces and Objects.”

The annual student art exhibition in the museum’s Wehling and McGill Galleries and Education Room features student pieces in a variety of traditional and digital media, selected by Valpo’s studio instructors during the course of the academic year. Additionally, this year marks the debut of the art department’s Senior Seminar that features art by four students using digital media. The April 13 opening reception will include an award ceremony to honor the students’ work.

WHO/WHAT: Since 1995, Valparaiso University has held a biannual Huegli Lecture to honor the legacy of Albert G. Huegli, who served as president of Valparaiso University from 1968 to 1978. A scholar of issues of church and state, Huegli came to Valparaiso as vice president for academic affairs in 1961 before becoming president. During his tenure, 18 buildings were constructed or renovated, the University endowment grew nearly tenfold, and academic programs and faculty were substantially enhanced in variety and quality.

This year, Valparaiso University hosts Father Peter Ely of Seattle University, who will present Valparaiso’s 2016 Huegli Lecture on church-related higher education. His lecture is entitled “Jesuit Higher Education in the Age of Pope Francis.”

Valparaiso University President Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., and Director of Athletics Mark LaBarbera announced today that Matt Lottich has been hired as the 22nd head coach in the history of the Valpo men’s basketball program. Lottich, who has been a member of the Crusader coaching staff for the last three years, is just the program’s fifth head coach in the last 36 years.

“We’re delighted Matt Lottich will serve as coach for our men’s basketball team,” Heckler said. “He has proven to be an outstanding coach who demonstrates a deep love for and commitment to the University’s core beliefs, values and ideals, and I am confident he will foster these values in our exceptional student-athletes.”

Lottich arrived at Valparaiso University in summer 2013 and has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach on the Valpo men’s basketball coaching staff, helping guide the Crusaders to 78 victories during that span. Valpo has won two Horizon League regular season championships and one league tournament title in Lottich’s tenure.

The long history of the men’s basketball program at Valparaiso University will begin a new chapter in 2016–2017, as head coach Bryce Drew ’98 departs to become the head coach at Vanderbilt University.

“We wish Bryce Drew and his family the best as they prepare for this next step in their journey,” said Mark LaBarbera, director of athletics. “It’s been a blessing to work with a man who embodies such character and faith. Bryce is an exceptional young coach who has been an integral part of the men’s basketball team’s success. We are confident we will continue to build on his success and look forward to the future.”

In his five years as head coach, Drew lifted the team’s national reputation and posted a 124-49 record, leading the team to four Horizon League regular season championships and two league tournament titles. A three-time Horizon League Coach of the Year, Drew led Valpo to the three winningest seasons in program history during his time at the helm. Prior to becoming head coach in May 2011, Drew spent six seasons as an assistant and associate head coach and starred for Valpo on the court from 1994 to 1998.

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