President Mark A. Heckler is traveling to Germany in early March to celebrate Valparaiso University’s partners in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg and to honor Wolf Brixner and Olga Hellmich Brixner, who have taught and provided other support for decades at Valpo’s study center in Reutlingen.

Well more than a thousand Valparaiso University students and faculty have called Baden-Wurttemberg a second home since 1968, with the founding of the study center in Reutlingen. Wolf and Olga Brixner have been a constant presence there. After nearly 40 years of teaching for Valparaiso University in Reutlingen, Wolf Brixner will retire from that position in May 2011. Olga Brixner is retiring after 14 years of teaching for Valpo.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to show our appreciation for all the Brixners have done for our University community, and to recognize our partners in Germany,” said Heckler, who will speak at a dinner honoring Wolf and Olga Brixner on March 11. “Reutlingen offers tremendous opportunities for students to learn the language, study European architecture and art, Luther and Bach – as well as travel throughout Germany and Eastern Europe.

Valpo’s president is leading a group of current and retired faculty and staff members, who will travel to each of three sites in Baden-Wurttemberg where current students study: the Hochschule Reutlingen; the Eberhard-Karls-Universitat in Tubingen; and the Hochschule fur Kirchenmusik, Rottenburg am Neckar.

The trip and dinner also serve as ways to recognize and strengthen ties with Valpo alumni who are living in Germany and nearby, and support another long-term objective of the University’s Strategic Plan: expanding the University’s international engagement.

“Strengthening relationships with the alumni community is a critical component of Valparaiso University’s Strategic Plan,” Heckler said. “The support of alumni around the world is so important to our sustainability and success. What a great chance this is to connect with our alumni based in Germany, and show them that we intend to reach out to our graduates throughout the world.”

In addition to this year’s presidential trip, 2012 is a year of expanded outreach to Germany for Valparaiso University.

The Valparaiso University Chorale will return to Germany in May 2012 to join in the 800th anniversary celebration of the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. This marks the Chorale’s fourth visit to this musically storied church.

An alumni tour to Germany is also planned for the same time period. This alumni tour will intersect with the Chorale at several points along the way, allowing tour members to hear the Chorale sing at several venues, including the Thomaskirche.