Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D. has served as Valparaiso University’s 18th president since 2008. A dedicated educator with more than 35 years of experience as a professor and administrator, President Heckler is overseeing the implementation of the most expansive and comprehensive Strategic Plan in the University’s more than 150-year history. His first seven years have been marked by enrollment growth, program and facilities expansion, greater diversity and internationalization, and enhanced alumni engagement.
President Heckler earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership and innovation from the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado. He completed his MFA with an emphasis in directing at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and earned his B.A. in communications summa cum laude at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Previously, President Heckler served the University of Colorado Denver for more than a decade, most recently as provost and vice chancellor for academic and student affairs.
Leading and Serving at Valparaiso University
Early in his tenure, President Heckler launched the most comprehensive and collaborative strategic-planning endeavor in the University’s history. The resulting Strategic Plan charts the course for Valpo to achieve new levels of excellence throughout the next two decades. Under President Heckler’s leadership, the University has already significantly expanded its facilities and academic programs.
During President Heckler’s first year, the University completed its five-year “Our Valpo, Our Time” fundraising campaign, initiated by his predecessor, Alan F. Harre, Ph.D.. The campaign raised $238 million — the largest fundraising goal ever achieved by a Lutheran university. The success builds the institution’s endowment, funds capital projects, and supports ongoing operations.
As President Heckler manages the implementation of the Strategic Plan, he maintains a commitment to transparency, meeting regularly with members of the Valpo community on campus and around the world to report on the University’s progress and to invite dialogue. His record of success and his forthright style have earned the admiration of community and religious leaders as well as his colleagues in higher-education leadership internationally.
Journey to Valparaiso University
President Heckler joined Valpo after more than a decade at the University of Colorado Denver, where he served first as a professor of theatre and director of its School of the Arts, then ascended through academic leadership positions across the University. Prior to moving to Denver, he was professor of fine arts and director of theatre at Siena College in New York, where he directed, acted, or designed more than 100 academic and professional theatre productions around the world.
President Heckler earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership and innovation from the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado. He completed his master of fine arts degree with an emphasis in directing at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. A first-generation college student, he earned his bachelor of arts in communications summa cum laude at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.
President Heckler and his wife, Veronica, grew up together in Windber, Pa. The Hecklers are parents of four children, grandparents of two and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.