News - 3/20/12

Indiana Supreme Court hears arguments at Valparaiso University Law School

The Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case State v. Hollin on Feb. 24 at Wesemann Hall. The Court takes time each session to hear one case at each of the four law schools in the state.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard, Justice Frank Sullivan, Jr., Justice Robert D. Rucker, and Justice Steven David were present. Justice Brent E. Dickson will read the record and vote on the matter at a later date

Cynthia Ploughe, Deputy Attorney General, represented the State and Michael Sauer represented the defendant, Hollin. The case involved a dispute over whether the defendant had been burdened by ineffective assistance of counsel in early appeals and the tension between evidentiary rules. Hollin was convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary. Later, he was granted post-conviction relief by the Ripley Circuit Court on the grounds that he had been denied the effective assistance of trial counsel. The Court of Appeals reversed in State v. Hollin, 952 N.E.2d 887 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011) (unpub.mem.dec), vacated. The Supreme Court granted Hollin’s petition to transfer on Jan. 5, 2012, and assumed jurisdiction over the case. The Court of Appeal’s opinion can be found at

Following the arguments, students were given the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from the Justices.

Valparaiso University Law School Dean Jay Conison offered a heartfelt farewell speech in honor of Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard. Shepard will be retiring this year after more than 25 years of service and numerous contributions to legal education programs within the state of Indiana.

Teaching organization honors German program for excellence

Valparaiso University’s German Program has been designated a German Center of Excellence by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG). Valpo is one of the only two U.S collegiate institutions to ever receive this honor from the organization. This is the first year that such a designation has been considered for institutions on the post-secondary level.

“It is a particular honor to have received this designation in its inaugural year for higher education,” said Jennifer Bjornstad, associate professor of German at Valpo. “This is a nationally competitive honor that recognizes the stellar faculty, exceptional students, and accomplished Valpo alumni and provides national recognition of the high quality of our German program.”

After reviewing the applications of numerous college and university German programs, the AATG review committee found Valpo’s programming excellent in every category. The committee members said the program demonstrates a strong support from the administration, professional colleagues, alumni, and students, and also has strong ties to the wider campus and community.

Valpo’s German program offers a high level of language proficiency including reading, writing, listening to and speaking German. With close-knit bonds between professors and students, the overall German experience is unique with extracurricular activities and special events are also integral elements of the program.

“The program’s curriculum is most impressive,” said Keith Cothrun, executive director of AATG. “Outcomes at each instructional level are clearly articulated and diverse learning styles are respected through varied instructional and assessment techniques.”

For more information about Valparaiso University’s German program visit

University to host Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival

Valparaiso University will host the 20th annual Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival, taking place March 23-25, 2012. Guest artists for this year’s festival are the Grammy Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ) and Shingo Fujii, one of the leading composers and classical guitarists in Japan.

The LAGQ will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24 in the Chapel of the Resurrection on the Valparaiso University campus. The public is invited to attend and may purchase tickets in advance by calling the box office at 219-464-5162.

In addition to its concert Saturday night, the LAGQ will join the festival orchestra, comprised of 230 student participants, to perform Fujii’s new work, “Shiki: Seasons of Japan,” which was written in dedication to the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Conducted by Fujii, the event will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the tragedy and will serve as a dramatic finale to the festival weekend.

“The Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival provides a unique opportunity for guitar students to collaborate with their peers, get inspired and educated from the masters of the instrument, and provide the public with a truly great concert experience,” said Jim Konsbruck, festival director. “This year, the added element of bringing a noted guitar composer from Japan to the festival, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, will certainly serve to enhance the cultural attractiveness of the event.”

More than 230 students representing 20 colleges and universities from six states will be taking part in the three-day festival. Throughout the weekend, students will have the opportunity to participate in various master classes and clinics, such as a technique clinic with Scott Tennant, author of the popular book on guitar technique, “Pumping Nylon,” as well as a member of the LAGQ, and a jazz guitar clinic with Matthew Greif, also a member of the LAGQ.

Additional highlights of the 2012 Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival include:

  • Ensemble master classes with LAGQ members William Kanengiser and John Dearman
  • An ensemble conducting clinic for school directors with Fujii
  • Concertomaggio, concerto for two guitars and string orchestra by Roland Dyens, performed by the Valparaiso University Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Guitar Duo, consisting of Jim Konsbruck, guitar instructor at Valparaiso University, and Wes Hixson, guitar instructor at Elmhurst College

All festival concerts are open to the public, while master classes, clinics, and the orchestra are open to festival participants only. A full schedule of events is available at

The Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival was established in 1991 in an effort to foster camaraderie and pedagogical exchanges between classical guitar teachers and students, to provide performance and learning opportunities for student ensembles, and to contribute to the overall artistic and cultural enrichment of its audiences. The festival has also worked to increase the ensemble repertoire through the commissioning of new works for the festival orchestra.

The first festival took place at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., and has since been held at schools such as Bradley University, Elmhurst College, Illinois State University, Indiana University/Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, and Webster University.

For more information on the 20th Annual Mid-America Guitar Ensemble Festival, visit or contact Jim Konsbruck at or (773) 206-4108.