WHAT: The provost’s office at Valparaiso University presents “Dialogue and Discernment: Seek First to Understand,” which is a series of events designed to provide meaningful instruction to the Valpo community on how to have civil discourse over irreconcilable differences. The series is an opportunity to engage in respectful conversation regarding some of today’s most challenging issues.

The first event in the series is entitled “A Conversation about Same-Sex Marriage.”

Valparaiso University students who are veterans of the U.S. Armed Services and suffered significant wounds or disabilities during their service will be eligible to receive scholarship support thanks to the generosity of alumni Ron Zech ’65 and Gisela Gerber ’66 Zech, who recently passed away. The children or dependents of wounded veterans or of veterans who lost their lives during service are also eligible. The couple has committed $1.5 million to establish the Gisela and Ron Zech Endowed Scholarship Fund.

“Gisela and I were very happy to make this commitment in support of two entities of great importance to us: education and veterans. Wounded veterans and their families are placed in an incredibly difficult position,” said Ron Zech. “We established the scholarship to help them achieve something that otherwise may not be possible.”

Valpo has been recognized as a Military Friendly School for 2016 by Victory Media. The list honors the top 15 percent of higher education institutions in the country that do the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranks Valpo No. 5 on the list of Best Colleges for Veterans in the Midwest.

WHAT: Valparaiso University’s Institute for Leadership and Service presents the Pathways to Purpose Speaker Series, which invites students to hear from alumni and other exemplary practitioners of leadership and service to help expand student imagination about pursuing purposeful work and a meaningful life in response to the deepest challenges of our time.

This lecture will focus on bridging work in the corporate sector with strong community involvement, a topic of great importance to students who care deeply about service, but don’t feel called to the nonprofit world.

The event is free and open to the public.

The Valparaiso University Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2016 will be officially inducted in a ceremony on the Valpo campus Saturday, Feb. 13. The 19 class in Hall of Fame history — Steve Bartholomew, Bert Bleke, Liz Mikos and Scott Petcu — will also be honored at halftime of the men’s basketball game versus Wright State Saturday night.

Valparaiso University acquired a $210,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and a $129,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for nuclear physics research.

“This funding provides several Valpo students with extraordinary research opportunities,” said Shirvel Stanislaus, Ph.D., professor of physics and principal investigator for the grants. “These students become fully engaged with leading scientists in challenging, high profile experiments, developing skills critical for entry into graduate school. These are opportunities that most students do not find in predominantly undergraduate schools like ours.”

WHO:  Valparaiso University and the Special Olympics of Indiana come together for the 2016 Polar Plunge, an event raising awareness and funds to sponsor the Special Olympics throughout the state. This is the sixth 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 prizes will be given to those who have the best costume, the largest team, and who raised the most money for Special Olympics Indiana. The event is open to the public and free to watch.

The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra to Headline Concert on April 2

Valparaiso University will host the 2016 Jazz Fest March 28 – April 2, featuring diverse workshops and performances including the Benny Green Trio and the legendary Count Basie Orchestra.

A number of the University’s faculty and student ensembles and middle school and high school bands will participate in the festivities. Local middle school and high school bands perform Monday, March 28 at 6 p.m. and Tuesday, March 29 at 6 p.m., with special guest the Valparaiso University Jazz Ensemble, in the Harre Union Ballroom. Both performances are free and open to the public.

WHO: The physics and astronomy department at Valparaiso University continues its series of public astronomy programs for spring 2016.

WHAT: Each evening will include either a telescope viewing on clear nights, carried out with the Valparaiso University computer-controlled telescope, or a constellation program on cloudy nights.

The public is also invited to attend a SARA telescope observing, featuring a remote viewing from Chile or Arizona, and a special public lecture by Timothy Beers of Notre Dame University titled “Galactic Archaeology — The Assembly of the Milky Way based on the First Age of the Galactic Halo.”

WHO: Valpo’s Black Student Organization will host the 16th annual Black History Month Dinner to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans in observance of Black History Month.

WHAT: The theme of this year’s celebration is “Advocating for Liberation” and will feature poets, singers and dancers each performing a piece revolving around this theme.

WHO: Valparaiso University’s Dance Ensemble features faculty and student choreographers and dancers from nearly every college within the University.

The production is directed by Department Chair and Professor of Theatre Ann Kessler.

WHAT: The production contains original pieces with creative and original costume design, lighting and music conceived and choreographed by Valpo students and faculty. This year’s performance features a variety of dance styles ranging from classical ballet and lyrical to theatrical jazz and hip hop.

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