Good morning, Valpo!
Here are a few words to carry on your journey today…
This is always an exciting week at Valparaiso University. We are filled with anticipation and expectation as each pursues a personal path of learning and discovery. Students, our campus is energized by your desire to grow in knowledge and make a difference, and Valpo offers an ideal setting for these desires to flourish.
One of the most distinctive elements of our Lutheran character is an unbridled commitment to freedom. Martin Luther described this as a Christian liberty, being “free lord of all and subject to none.” At Valpo, we are free to inquire; we are free to pursue truth in dialog with other faiths, values, and beliefs. And through this free pursuit, we come to strengthen our beliefs, gain wisdom, and develop a greater sense of purpose.
This leads me to a second and most important aspect of freedom, as we know it at Valparaiso University. Even though Luther declared each of us “free lord of all and subject to none,” he finished his sentence stating that we are also “the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one.” That’s why, at Valpo, with freedom comes a great responsibility to serve the world. These two principles, freedom and service, represent the foundation upon which this extraordinary University is built. As we begin this new year — students, faculty, and staff — let us dedicate and re-dedicate our collective energies to upholding these fundamental principles.
Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, said this: “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth … not going all the way, and not starting.” The road Siddhartha speaks of is not easily traveled. It requires challenging yourself to understand who you are and what is meaningful to you. Being here today, as a member of the Valpo community, you have made the choice to begin or continue this journey. During the months to come, your journey will bring new insights and experiences that will continue to shape your life and your future.
While each of us pursues an individual path, you are not without company. Valpo students, faculty, staff, and alumni compose an interconnected community in which everyone supports one another. The fabric of our community is woven with many threads — the conversation that takes place between a student and faculty member over a meal in Founders Table or coffee at Grinders; the cheers of support for our Crusaders in competition; the service project that brings classmates together in the shared desire to help our neighbors in need; the dialogue between students who come to Valpo from more than 50 different countries and learn about one another’s cultures and beliefs; and the friends you make here who will be with you the rest of your life. We live and learn together, enriched and strengthened by our diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and ideas.
Each member of the Valpo community plays a crucial part in creating the compelling teaching and learning environment that distinguishes our University. The quality of the Valpo experience is made possible by our caring and committed faculty and staff members, and extends beyond the classroom to include extracurricular activities, athletics, spiritual, and residential life. Learning and living are inextricably connected at Valpo, and students have numerous opportunities to take what is learned in the classroom and immediately put knowledge into action.
During this first day of the new year, I encourage everyone to participate in today’s Opening Convocation and the community celebration that follows. This is a special opportunity to welcome the newest members of our Valpo family and honor the unique character of our University and its people. Opening Convocation begins at 3:30 p.m., and if you are a new student, please gather in the Harre Union lobby at 3:15 p.m. to participate in a procession into the Chapel of the Resurrection. All new students are welcome to process: freshman, transfer, graduate, and law. Returning students are invited to be seated in the Chapel. Following Opening Convocation, enjoy the “One Planet, One People” activities fair and “Taste of Valpo,” featuring more than a dozen local restaurants. More information about Opening Convocation is online at www.valpo.edu/convocation.
As we begin this new year, may each of you relish the liberty and commit to the inherent responsibility in your studies, teaching, scholarship, and work. Together, we lead and serve. May you find fulfillment in our journey toward truth.
Mark A. Heckler