Theresa (Terry) Kessler’s appointment as the KREFT ENDOWED CHAIR for the Advancement of Nursing Science will have a greater impact on her students than on herself. As she has since joining the faculty of the College of Nursing and Health Professions in 1994, Terry’s personal scholarship, accomplishments, and professional development are directed toward enhanced learning experiences for nursing students.
Whether teaching within the College’s bachelor, master, or doctorate-level nursing programs, Terry has always emphasized the importance of research and created opportunities for students to be engaged in research projects. The resources provided through the Kreft Chair will allow an expansion of research opportunities and provide Valpo’s nursing students with real hands-on experience that is not found at most nursing programs. “The endowed chair gives me the freedom to move forward with my research ideas and to engage more students in the research process,” she says. “That’s the exciting part to me.”
Terry was appointed to the Kreft Chair at the start of the 2015–2016 academic year and officially inducted to the position during the Winter Commencement ceremony on Dec. 13, 2015. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky, an MSN from Indiana University, and a BSN from Purdue University. Terry received the 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Valparaiso University Alumni Association and previously received the Caterpillar Award for Excellence in Teaching from Valpo.
Shirley and Karl Kreft provided the support to establish the endowed chair in 2007, with the purpose of attracting and retaining high quality faculty for the College of Nursing and Health Professions. Terry is only the second faculty member to hold the position. Kristen Mauk was the inaugural Kreft Chair, holding the position from 2007–2015.
Importance of Endowment
Endowed faculty chairs are just one part of Valparaiso University’s overall endowment. While frequently described as if it was a single fund, an endowment is actually the aggregate of many different funds, most of which have terms and restrictions on how they can be used. Established with the preference of the donor, restricted endowed funds provide support for designated scholarships, programs, and Colleges.
Unrestricted endowed funds, consisting of a smaller portion of Valpo’s overall endowment, are a critical source of income and allow the University leadership to respond to the most immediate needs. The flexibility to allocate the resources generated from the unrestricted endowment fund can make the difference in whether a faculty member can continue with their research or a student is able to attend Valpo.
Whether restricted or unrestricted, there may be no better measure of a university’s financial health than the strength of its endowment. A strong endowment ensures long-term financial stability, reduces dependence on student tuition dollars to balance the budget, and improves institutional agility, making it possible to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.
Valpo’s endowment is quite small when compared to aspirants, peers, and competitors. With a value of just more than $202 million, as of June 30, 2015, it does not provide the financial foundation the University needs to advance its vision.
“A strong endowment is critical to Valpo’s future,” says Susan D. Scroggins, CPA ’04 MBA, Valpo’s vice president for finance and administration. “The reliable long-term support generated from endowed funds allows the University to engage in long-term planning with confidence that the resources will be available in the future.”
Considering the endowment’s importance to Valpo’s future, the University will be setting ambitious goals for increasing the size of the endowment during the next several years. Great strides have already been made, as evidenced by the commitments listed below to support student scholarships, faculty development, and programs of strategic significance.