Since Valparaiso University was established in 1859 as a pioneer of coeducation, its presidents have led it through rapidly, sometimes dramatically changing times. Their stories offer a brief glimpse of Valpo’s challenges and triumphs as it developed into a premier Lutheran university focused on the lifelong pursuit of truth and the development of the skills necessary to lead and serve communities.

The group of Methodist regional leaders who formed Valpo’s first board of trustees elected the Rev. Charles N. Sims as its first president, but when Sims had to defer his arrival for a term, Francis D. Carley was named acting president. Carley, one of the five original faculty members (and the only male), was a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy. In 1859, 75 students attended classes, and by the end of the first term, enrollment grew to 175. To read more about Mark Heckler’s predecessors at Valpo, click on the photos below.