Since 1995, Valparaiso University has presented its Martin Luther King Jr. Award to individuals and groups within the Valpo community who have made significant and lasting contributions to creating an environment where diversity is honored and respected on campus and beyond.

During the annual MLK Celebration Convocation on Jan. 15, the 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Award was presented to Professors Tatiana Hurtado and Geoffrey Heeren for their efforts to promote racial and religious equality throughout the Valparaiso community and Northwest Indiana.

Tatiana Hurtado ’04, ’10 MBA, lecturer in foreign languages, is co-director of the Summer Global Leadership Institute and director of the Summer Smart, Summer Fun program, which create a bridge between the University and the Valparaiso community. Professor Hurtado also sits on the city of Valparaiso Human Relations Council and was a central part of the formation of the city’s 2017 Human Rights Ordinance. In addition, she is an accomplished teacher, an influential mentor, and an individual who pursues opportunities to inspire, guide, and teach.

Geoffrey Heeren, J.D., LL.M., associate professor of law and Michael and Dianne Swygert Teaching Fellow, teaches courses in constitutional law and works at the Law School’s satellite immigration clinic in Chicago. Professor Heeren’s passion and work have found purpose in guiding his clients through the often-convoluted path of due process, winning asylum cases and aiding recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

This year, the MLK Convocation also included a special recognition for the inaugural MLK Award recipient, Professor LouJeanne Walton ’60. Professor Walton joined Valpo’s faculty in 1970 and served the University with distinction for more than 35 years. In addition to leading the social work department, she served as a volunteer for numerous local nonprofit agencies, including The Caring Place, the Domestic Relations Council of Lake County, Jobs for the Disabled, the Open Housing Commission of Gary, and the Lutheran Human Relations Association.

At Valpo, Professor Walton served as advisor to the Black Student Organization and on the Advisory Council on Multiracial Concerns. She received the MLK Award in recognition of advocacy on issues involving race, gender, social class, economic opportunity, and justice. In honor of her leadership and service to the University, Valpo established a scholarship program, the LouJeanne Walton Scholars Program.

Visit for more information about MLK celebrations at Valparaiso University.