Valparaiso University alumni Peter ’65, ’70 M.A. and Bonnie Thalacker ’70 Raquet have generously committed $3 million to establish the Endowed Director’s Chair for the Institute for Leadership and Service. When fully funded, the endowment will provide a permanent source of support for the Institute’s programs, which advance Valpo’s mission of preparing students for lives of leadership and service.

“When the idea of the Institute first was formed, there was recognition that Valpo could have a dedicated place where students would be exposed to the core principles of leadership and service,” said Peter Raquet.

“Today’s students are part of a life-changing generation,” Bonnie Raquet added. “We want to support Valpo and ensure students are prepared to lead positive change for a more courageous and compassionate world.”

Valparaiso University professor Slavica Jakelic was among 25 educators chosen to participate in a national session to broaden students’ understanding of interfaith issues.

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, organized the five-day “Teaching Interfaith Understanding” seminar in June at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The program aims to strengthen and broaden participants’ knowledge and teaching of interfaith understanding and included ideas for new courses and resources.

“Strengthening the teaching of interfaith understanding at colleges and universities is a high priority at a time when college enrollment — and American society — is becoming more diverse. Strengthening participation in American life with greater understanding of the distinctive contributions of different faiths is a key to America’s future success,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The number of institutions that nominated faculty members to participate in the interfaith understanding seminar is most impressive.”

A short documentary by Valparaiso University Assistant Professor Liz Wuerffel, recent graduate Saddam Al-Zubaidi, and digital media graduate student Sarhang Sherwany is an official selection of the Redlands Film and Beer Festival in Redlands, Calif., Oct 22–25.

The three filmmakers traveled to Kurdish Region, Iraq, in 2014 to film “Kawergosk: Home Made of Cloth,” which tells the story of Syrian Kurds attempting to build a life at the Kawergosk Refugee Camp. The Redlands Festival marks the official debut of the documentary.

“During filming, many of the refugees we met wanted Americans to better understand their situation,” Wuerffel said. “It was an honor to have been trusted with their stories, and we’re very glad to be able to share them at Redlands.”

Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of Valparaiso University, is one of eight presidents and chancellors to sign the Indiana Campus Compact Presidential Commitment, pledging to educate students and graduates who give back to their communities and advance the public good.

“Valpo students and alumni lead with integrity and character and make a positive difference across the country and around the world,” said Heckler, who chairs the Indiana Campus Compact for 2015–2016. “This agreement formalizes our commitment to continue to graduate such outstanding global citizens and forges a partnership with other colleges and universities to serve our communities.”

In August, Valpo was named the No. 1 master’s university for contribution to public good by Washington Monthly, and students annually devote more than 220,000 hours to community outreach and service learning.

Valparaiso University Archives and Special Collections announces archived issues of The Torch, the oldest and longest-running student-published newspaper at Valpo, are now online and freely available to the public.

“The digitization of The Torch, along with other unique special collections and rare books held by the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources available at, provides alumni, faculty and students of Valparaiso University with easy Internet access to the heritage and history of this vibrant and active institution now and for years to come,” said Bradford Lee Eden, Ph.D., dean of library services.

The collection, digitized from University Archives and Special Collections’ microfilm, covers the years 1914–1992. The Torch is a recipient of multiple Indiana College Weekly of the Year awards.

The generosity of Valparaiso University alumnus Andrew Nunemaker ’91 will establish an endowed fund to assist students faced with emergency situations so severe that it threatens their Valpo academic careers. The Andy Nunemaker Emergency Scholarship Assistance Fund will provide flexible scholarship funds to be awarded in confidentiality, upon the review and approval of the president of Valparaiso University.

“Every year we have students who are faced with an emergency financial situation so serious that their ability to remain enrolled at Valpo is at risk,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of Valparaiso University. “We work with those students and their families, in strict confidence, attempting to provide the assistance necessary to prevent them from withdrawing from the University. Andy’s vision and commitment to address this critical need in perpetuity is a great demonstration of philanthropy and deeply appreciated by the entire University community.”

Valparaiso University secured a $223,753 grant from the National Science Foundation under its Major Research Instrumentation and Chemistry Research Instrumentation and Facilities Program.

With this award, Valparaiso University will acquire an ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography system with four detectors, used for analyzing samples by separating the components using chromatography techniques.

“This grant will further advance the robust science-related fields at Valparaiso University,” said Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Students and professors will have exciting new opportunities to collaborate across disciplines including chemistry, biochemistry, and civil engineering.”

The theatre department at Valparaiso University presents the 2015–2016 production season.

Major performances include:

  • “Godspell,” Oct. 8–9 and 16 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 10–11 and 17–18 at 2 p.m., University Theatre. In “Godspell,” a small group of people helps Jesus Christ tell different parables using a variety of games, storytelling techniques and comic timing. The first major musical theatre production from three-time Grammy and Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz, “Godspell” features beloved songs “Day by Day,” “All Good Gifts,” “By My Side,” and many others.
  • “Mosque Alert,” Nov. 11–13 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 14–15 at 2 p.m., Studio Theatre. Directed by Assistant Professor of English George Potter, “Mosque Alert” by Jamil Khoury tells the story of two suburban American families living in Naperville, Ill., — one Christian, the other Muslim — who find their lives torn apart by a proposal to build a new mosque in their community.
  • “The Directing Showcase,” Dec. 7–9 at 8 p.m. Senior theatre majors will direct a series of one-act plays as part of their capstone coursework.
  • Actors From The London Stage Residency, Jan. 11–16. Presented by Christ College — The Honors College, Actors From The London Stage will return for the third annual Shakespeare Week, which includes performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Jan. 14–16. Ticket information and additional events will be announced later this fall.
  • Dance Ensemble, Feb. 11–12 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 13–14 at 2 p.m., University Theatre. Professor of Theatre Ann Kessler directs faculty and student choreographers and performers from across campus to present a variety of dance styles with creative and original costume design, lighting and music.
  • “The Eyre Affair,” April 1 and 8 at 8 p.m. and April 2–3 and 9–10 at 2 p.m., Studio Theatre. “The Eyre Affair” presents a world in which books are literally the gateway to any place people want to go. In Austin Tichenor’s stage adaptation, Jasper Fforde’s New York Times bestselling novel comes to life as Literary Detective Thursday Next must solve a kidnapping, prevent a string of literary homicides and ensure history — both literary and her own — is not changed forever
  • “God of Carnage,” April 28–29 at 8 p.m. and April 30 – May 1 at 2 p.m., Studio Theatre. A student-directed production, “God of Carnage” by Yasmine Reza presents a playground altercation between 11-year-old boys that brings together two sets of Brooklyn parents who must resolve the matter.

With the exception of Shakespeare Week events, tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for senior citizens and non-Valpo students; and free for students, faculty and staff.

Visit for more information.

Sept. 17 – Valparaiso, Ind. – Valparaiso University advances its long history of commitment to STEM education and expands facilities with a new wet laboratory building. The groundbreaking ceremony is Thursday, Sept. 17, at 10 a.m.

“This new facility will provide essential laboratory spaces that are as vibrant and robust as our dedicated students and faculty,” said Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “These vital resources will significantly enhance our already strong paradigm for conducting scientific research on campus and increase opportunities within our strong, interdisciplinary science programs.

During the past few years, Valpo engaged faculty members, architects and a professional laboratory consultant to identify priorities and develop an efficient plan of action to meet long-term student needs. The state-of-the-art laboratories will utilize a flexible design to encourage strong, interdisciplinary collaboration and research.

The 55,000-square-foot science facility is slated to open in fall 2017 and will contain primarily wet laboratories for chemistry, biochemistry and biology students, along with informal students spaces and staff and faculty offices. Neils Science Center, constructed in 1967, will be renovated and continue to provide classroom and teaching spaces.

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Valparaiso University students who participate in Study Abroad programs will be eligible to receive scholarship support thanks to the generosity of alumni Kathleen ’82 and Robert ’82 Hansen. The couple has committed $3 million to establish the Robert and Kathleen Hansen Endowed Scholarship for Study Abroad.

“Kathy and I have been fortunate to live and work on three continents since graduating from Valpo, and we have seen our entire family benefit from these experiences,” Bob Hansen said. “We are passionate about giving Valpo students an opportunity to study abroad and prepare them for success in our ever increasing global economy.”

Valpo has offered Study Abroad opportunities to students since 1968, when the first programs were established in England and Germany. Approximately 35 percent of all Valpo undergraduate students study abroad prior to graduation, compared to fewer than 10 percent of all United States undergraduate students. The University consistently places among the top 40 master’s level institutions for undergraduate participation, as ranked by the Institute of International Education.

“Kathy and Bob’s philanthropic support of Valparaiso University is deeply appreciated,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of Valparaiso University. “At Valpo, we aim to prepare graduates to excel in a global society. This endowed scholarship will provide resources in perpetuity for students to study abroad and participate in challenging, transformative real-world experiences that will help shape their lifetime of leadership and service.”

Valpo students have access to more than 45 Study Abroad opportunities located in 26 countries and offered in 12 languages. The University houses study centers in England, Germany, China and Costa Rica, as well as short-term, semester, and yearlong programs throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Valpo is also a member of the Generation Study Abroad initiative, a partnership of nearly 500 institutions striving to double the number of college students studying abroad by 2020.

Bob chairs the Valparaiso University Board of Directors Advancement Committee, and he is co-chair of Valpo’s upcoming campaign, currently in the leadership gifts phase. Kathy earned a bachelor of science in social work, and Bob holds a bachelor of science in business administration.

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