Valparaiso University alumni Rev. Mark ’71 and Kathleen Koepp ’71 Helge have generously committed $2 million to establish the Mark and Kathleen Helge Endowed Program for Students and Philanthropy. The fund will provide operating support for a new presidential initiative that establishes an integrated, holistic and student-focused program in philanthropy.

The program will be integrated into the overall student experience and culture at Valpo, so that by graduation, students will have had a four-year education in why and how to become leaders who serve and who give. It will add “generosity” as a third dimension to Valparaiso University’s “leadership and service” ethos, so that future students will graduate with an understanding that lives of meaning and purpose include a calling to be generous with their financial resources, as well as with their time and wisdom.

“Mark and Kathy Helge’s gift and support is truly reflective of the program that they are funding,” says Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of Valparaiso University. “Their generosity will serve as the catalyst for a student-focused philanthropy program that will integrate leadership, service and generosity into the academic, spiritual and social experiences of our students. We are grateful for their support which will impact generations of students.”

The Helges are long-time benefactors to the University. Most recently, they funded extensive upgrades and renovation of the Chapel of the Resurrection, including the Kathleen and Mark Helge Center, an 11,000-square-foot addition to the Chapel.

Kathy earned a bachelor of science in biology and retired from St. Anthony’s Medical Center in Rockford, Illinois, as a medical technologist. Mark holds a bachelor of arts in history and has been a member of the Valparaiso University Board of Directors since 2006. He has served in the Lutheran ministry for more than 30 years and is currently president of the Marion I. Breen Charitable Foundation.

“When the idea of integrating generosity and importance of philanthropy into the overall student experience at Valpo was first formed, Kathy and I knew it was an initiative that was of great interest to us,” says Rev. Mark Helge. “Valpo has greatly influenced our lives, and we are blessed to be in a position to support an initiative that will help shape the lives of future students.”

The Helges’ $2 million gift to establish the Mark and Kathleen Helge Endowed Program for Students and Philanthropy supports Forever Valpo: The Campaign for Our Future, a $250 million endowment campaign focused on raising permanent support for student scholarships, faculty development and programs. Forever Valpo was officially launched on Sept. 23, 2016, and has raised more than $175 million.