Faculty who teach the Core come from all disciplines at the University. Although their backgrounds may vary from nursing to English and from engineering to music, each is committed to enhancing the unique experience of the Core. You'll enjoy getting to know these dedicated teachers, a few of whom are profiled below.

Prof. Dena Hein

In Core class, Professor Dena Hein encourages students to be curious and to question their assumptions. When one of her students did just that, asking Prof. Hein to name the single event in her life that most influenced her, without hesitation she said, “growing up in a family dedicated to community service.”

“My parents were social activists in the sixties and seventies when I was in grade school,” Hein said. “I remember my dad hanging a Gandhi quote, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’ in the bathroom next to the toothbrush holder, where I would see it and read it multiple times a day.”

Hein took the message to heart by becoming a licensed social worker and dedicating ten years to various organizations in her hometown of Indianapolis.  Hein says she’s led youth groups, worked as a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and spent time as a substitute teacher at an alternative school for juvenile delinquents. “For years, I spread myself thin, but I profited greatly from the life lessons.”

Teaching a class like Core, with the title “The Human Experience” is the perfect platform for Hein to share her stories and to encourage her students to find their own passion for altruism and service.

Hein earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Indiana University and a Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in English and Creative Writing from Valparaiso University.  Her essays, “Fear of Drowning” and “Being Queen” both won the Midsummer Tale Contest in 2007 and 2008 and were published online by the Toasted Cheese Literary Journal. She currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board for the Boys and Girls Club of Porter County.


Dr. Frederick Niedner

A look at the columns he writes weekly for a local newspaper give a glimpse of the wide interests of Dr. Frederick Niedner and insight into his perceptive analysis of things taking place in the world around him.

He's written about the shopping frenzy that accompanies Christmas, posting the Ten Commandments in schools, the aging of family members, war, peace and many other topics that link common events with spiritual growth. He's reviewed the biography of baseball great Sandy Koufax and he's a regular contributor to publications such as Christian Century.

Such diverse interests coupled with a passion for teaching make Dr. Niedner a popular teacher in Valpo's Core.

Born in Wyoming and raised in Nebraska, Dr. Niedner received undergraduate degrees from St. Paul's College in Missouri and Concordia Senior College in Indiana before receiving advanced degrees from Concordia Seminary and Christ Seminary in St. Louis. He is a professor of theology at Valpo.
He is author of Preaching the Easter Gospels and co-author of Keeping the Faith: A Guide to the Christian Message.


Dr. Betsy Burow-Flak

It can be said that the interests of Dr. Betsy Burow-Flak span several centuries. She often teaches a course entitled "From Gutenberg to Gates," an examination of how media affect what we say. One of Valpo's most dedicated users of 21st century technology, she also is interested in the writings of 17th century women.
An assistant professor of English, Dr. Burow-Flak has special interest in literature, but she's equally popular as a teacher in the Valpo Core where she engages students in thought-provoking discussions that aid in developing analytical skills that serve a lifetime.

Dr. Burow-Flak regularly establishes online chat rooms for her classes and has helped students create Web sites for their best writing. She also has served as an instructor at technology workshops for her colleagues on the Valpo faculty.

She is an honors graduate of Augsburg College in Minnesota and earned her doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Texas. She has presented papers at numerous professional workshops and conferences and is contributor to a textbook on writing instruction for first-year college students.