Begun by Methodists in 1859 as an institution pioneering coeducation, the Valparaiso Male and Female College was forced by the reverses of the Civil War to close its doors in 1871. It was revived in 1873 by an enterprising educator, Henry Baker Brown, as the Northern Indiana Normal School, renamed Valparaiso College in 1900, and re-chartered in 1907 as Valparaiso University. However, after World War I, the University went into decline and bankruptcy; then, in 1925, The Lutheran University Association, a group of clergy and church laity who saw a bright future for the University, purchased it. From the beginning, the association intentionally sought to have Valparaiso University exist as an independent Lutheran institution under neither the control nor the authority of any church body. It continues to be owned and operated by The Lutheran University Association. The Association is an Indiana corporation composed of men and women, the majority of whom are affiliated with Lutheran congregations. It is a national organization whose members represent the principal regions of the United States.
Since 1925, when Lutheran clergy and laity arranged to purchase the University, Valpo has enjoyed a long and positive relationship with many congregations, church workers, and laity of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. In these latter years, the University is also grateful for its increasing opportunity for collaboration and conversation with congregations, schools and denominational officials of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. The University continues to seek out and treasure a broad range of relationship and partnerships with numerous Lutheran organizations, agencies, institutions, and schools, not only within the community of Northwest Indiana but throughout the U.S. and beyond. Distinguished by its Lutheran heritage of scholarship, freedom, and faith, the dreams of these modern founders continue to be fulfilled in the new chapters of Valparaiso University history.
As one crosses the campus, several examples of this intersection between faith and life can be discovered. From the engineers designing irrigation systems for remote African villages to nurses exploring elder care, from educators preparing for the classroom to business students assisting local businesses with ethical decisions, from artists preparing for service to the church to worship gatherings, this connection between daily life and faith radiates throughout the campus community.