Charting Change: Preparing for the future global workplace

Mark A. Heckler
President, Valparaiso University
February 2009

Our world is changing rapidly. If there was ever a doubt about globalization and our increasing interdependency, today's world-wide economic turmoil put any remaining doubts to rest. Few of us go through a day without using products manufactured in China, and a local story about a dangerous Chinese product has ripple effects in Beijing. As the old Coca-Cola commercial said, "We Are the World"

We all must think about what it means to live and work in this world. How can American companies and educational institutions take advantage of new opportunities in other countries? What skills do workers need to compete? What do graduates need to know and be able to do in this new landscape?

Valparaiso University and other institutions of higher education are critical vehicles in helping our students, communities and businesses answer these questions and meet the inevitable challenges ahead.

At Valparaiso, we strive to prepare the next generation of professionals and business leaders by incorporating global education throughout the academic program. Our recent selection as one of the best international universities in America, winner of the Paul Simon Award for Internationalization, is evidence that Valparaiso is preparing graduates for success in the global arena.

The University maintains study centers in China, Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom and provides opportunities for students to study on every continent. Students immerse themselves in other languages and cultures, or hold internships in which they gain experience in an international work environment. Developing the ability to work with people of different cultural backgrounds is one of the most important abilities for 21st century workers, and culturally-fluent graduates will be in high demand.

Northwest Indiana also benefits from the international relationships the University brings to the region.

This fall, Valparaiso set a record for international enrollment with 245 students from 55 nations on campus. Through our Confucius Institute - which promotes cultural and business exchanges between Northwest Indiana and China - local business and civic leaders recently visited China to explore economic development opportunities. Next spring, a delegation of Chinese businesspersons and government officials will visit Northwest Indiana to continue building relationships.

These relationships can help local companies find new markets for their products, while at the same time inviting companies from other countries to invest money and create jobs here.

Along with our sister institutions in the region, Valparaiso understands its capacity and responsibility to connect students and communities with the rest of the world. Our distinction at Valparaiso is our commitment to develop professionals and leaders who not only have what it takes to compete with the best, but understand their ethical and moral responsibility to serve as positive forces for good in the world.

The future of Northwest Indiana and the rest of the world are inextricably linked. Valparaiso commits to doing its part to prepare those who will build the partnerships and alliances of tomorrow and to nurture in our graduates a sense of their responsibility to leave the region and our world in a better place than we find them today.