News - 9/9/11

University ranked 11th nationally for service by Washington Monthly

Valparaiso University's commitment to preparing graduates who are passionate about using their knowledge and compassion to help others has been recognized by Washington Monthly in its rankings of the nation’s top service-oriented schools.

Valpo tied for No. 11 among master’s-level universities in the nation, and is the top-ranked school in that category among institutions located in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan or Wisconsin.

President Mark A. Heckler said learning through service is one of the most essential components of the Valpo student experience.

"Lifting up people in need deepens Valpo students' understanding of the world and of their own sense of vocation," Heckler said. "Learning through service is one of the cornerstones of a Valpo education that focuses on helping students develop the character, knowledge, integrity and wisdom that thoughtful leaders possess."

Nearly half of Valpo’s undergraduate students participated in service projects during the 2010-2011 academic year, performing nearly 60,000 hours of community service.

Among the major service activities that took place:

  • Hundreds of members of the Valparaiso University community participated in the third annual Day of Caring service event in September 2010, completing service projects at 16 sites, doing yard work, painting, washing windows, and other jobs for various community organizations.
  • Members of Valpo's social justice ministry, the Social Action Leadership Team (SALT), completed their 2011 World Relief Campaign “kuJenga; Building minds, one block at a time, ” which involved building a school house in Tanzania.
  • Nursing students continued a multi-year project with a remote Nicaraguan village to implement a public health initiative and improve living conditions for the residents.
  • Valpo’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders worked with a Tanzanian village to design and implement a long-term solution for its drinking and irrigation water needs.
  • Valpo’s Martin Luther King celebration included Valpo students mentoring and teaching younger students from the community.


This academic year, the Valpo community continued its commitment to service on Sept 3. with Communiversity Day, which featured students and community members working to “Build a Reading Buddy” and donate teddy bears for the I Need a Hug program. I Need a Hug is a United Way program supported by Valpo’s softball team, which promotes local efforts to encourage elementary school children to read.

Later this month, more than 500 students will participate in the fifth annual Day of Caring, which will include service work across the Valparaiso community as well as packing meals to feed thousands of residents in need.

The Washington Monthly rankings are based upon the performance of institutions in the areas of research, service, and social mobility. Criteria include the number of hours students devote to community service, the number of students serving in the Peace Corps or Reserve Officer Training Corps, the percentage of students receiving Pell grants, exceeding the predicted graduation rate based on students’ SAT scores and Pell Grant percentages, and the number of graduates who go on to earn PhDs.

Communiversity Day brings fun despite the rain

The experts predicted some nasty weather on Saturday, and they were right. But that wasn’t going to stop the second annual Communiversity Day celebration at Valparaiso University from being another big success.

Storms rolled in on Sept. 3, bringing rain in bursts, making for a soggy Saturday and sending people inside the Athletics-Recreation Center to escape the downpours, but the skies cleared up – for the most part — as members of the Valparaiso University community and residents of the region enjoyed a range of fun activities.

Those included a well-attended tailgate barbecue catered by Dining Services; a volleyball tournament in the ARC; the Build a Reading Buddy service project, hosted by the Valpo softball team; and the Valpo vs. Franklin football game under the lights at Brown Field.

The volleyball team finished second in the round robin Volley Brawl tournament, improving to 6-2 on the season in the process.

Valpo took an early lead in an excitement-filled football shootout, and went up 35-28 early in the second half, before ultimately falling 49-35.

A large crowd, including an enthusiastic student section, cheered on the Crusaders in what was the second game in history played under the lights on campus, following last year’s inaugural contest at the first Communiversity Day.

The spirit of Communiversity Day, which celebrates the University’s positive relationship with the region, may have been most evident under the Build a Reading Buddy tent. Visitors stuffed bears for I Need a Hug, which promotes reading among elementary school students. After stuffing the bears to benefit the United Way program, volunteers received a book in return.

To see more photos from Communiversity, visit the Flickr site here. To see a video on I Need a Hug, go here.

Consulate General of Mexico visits Law School

Eduardo Arnal Palomera, Consulate General of Mexico, and Alberto Foncerrada Berumen, of the Office of Relations with Local Governments, visited the City of Valparaiso, Valparaiso University and Valparaiso University Law School on Aug 31.

Arnal Palomera spent time with several officials from Valparaiso University during his visit, including Dean of the Law School Jay Conison, Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler, Provost Mark Schwehn, Senior Associate Provost Renu Juneja, and Associate Provost David Rowland.

While visiting Valparaiso University Law School, Arnal Palomera had a meeting with the Latino Law Student Association to discuss changes in Mexico brought about by a new generation of young leaders. Several Valparaiso University Law School students weighed in on their own connection with Mexico and interests in both immigration law and international law. Yolanda Ruiz, President of the Latino Law Student Association, thanked Arnal Palomera for taking the time to talk with the students and expressed her appreciation of having a strong connection between the Law School and the consulate, as she feels it will greatly benefit students. Luis Vasquez, a third-year law student, expressed a concern with the view that the United States is not on par with Mexico and asked, “How can we change that perception?” The Consulate General replied simply, “I do that every day.” His belief is that the distribution of information is the only way to change this thought process and cites it as the main reason for his visit.

Arnal Palomera officially started in his new role on May 16 and has plans to visit all 128 counties in his jurisdiction to understand the issues weighing on the minds of the people and to expand awareness of Mexico. Porter County is the 11th county Arnal Palomera has visited on his trip, with other stops in northern Indiana including Fort Wayne, Columbia City, Knox, Plymouth and East Chicago. According to Arnal Palomera, Mexico is the second largest worldwide trade partner of Indiana.

Arnal Palomera was appointed Consul General of Mexico in Chicago in March 2011. His role in this post is to provide services for the Mexican population of Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, which encompasses nearly 3 million people. The City of Chicago boasts the fifth largest population of Mexicans in the world and the second largest Mexican consulate.