The long history of commitment to Valparaiso University by Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg was carried forward Saturday, April 28, when the University announced that the Duesenbergs had made a $5 million gift toward the construction of the Duesenberg Welcome Center.

The announcement took place at Saturday’s Duesenberg Welcome Center groundbreaking ceremony at the location of the new facility near the entrance to campus along U.S. 30.

“The Duesenbergs’ commitment to Valparaiso University over the years has helped to enhance and carry out our mission to prepare students for leadership and service,” Valparaiso University President Mark A. Heckler said. “This gift to the Duesenberg Welcome Center is another example their gracious generosity. We are forever thankful to all that they have done for Valpo and for all that their kind gifts will continue to represent for our entire University community.”

The 15,000-square-foot Duesenberg Welcome Center will create a front door for the University and will support the needs of prospective students, alumni, and all guests visiting campus. It will also house key historical and modern exhibits as a continuation of the University’s story told in Heritage Hall, which was dedicated in April 2011.

The Duesenberg Welcome Center will play a central role in the University’s efforts to grow to 6,000 students as part of the University’s Strategic Plan. The center will help foster a greater sense of community for visitors on campus.

The Duesenberg Welcome Center is a design/build project led by The Hagerman Group of Fort Wayne, Ind. The exterior and interior design is by Design Organization of Valparaiso, Ind. The Hagerman Group is leading the design team of Design Organization, KJWW Engineering Consultants, GAI/Bonar consultants for Civil Engineering and Surveying, and Xibitz consultants for displays. Each member of this project team was selected for the experience it brings to campus projects and this project specifically.

The Duesenbergs are graduates of the University. Richard completed his undergraduate studies in 1951 and earned his juris doctorate degree from Valparaiso University Law School in 1953 before obtaining his master of laws degree from Yale in 1956. In 2001, Richard received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Valparaiso University. Phyllis is a 1954 Valparaiso University graduate and received an honorary doctor of arts degree from Valparaiso University in 2004.

Richard, retired senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for Monsanto Company, is an emeritus member of the University’s Board of Directors.

“We are very pleased to help make this Welcome Center a reality for the University,” the Duesenbergs said. “It is critical for the growth plans already in place at Valpo. In it, prospective students, alumni and friends and the casual visitor dropping in from Highway 30, will learn of the unique and distinctive qualities of the University.”

For more than 50 years, the Duesenbergs have helped conceive, support and implement programs that promote the Lutheran heritage and character of Valparaiso University. They served as co-chairs of the “Three Goals, One Promise” capital campaign, which exceeded its goal of $75 million, in support of Valparaiso University. During that campaign, they made gifts to endow four University chairs: The Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Religion and the Arts, in Lutheran Music, in Christian Ethics, and one in the Law School.

They also made gifts to endow the Bach Institute at Valparaiso University. The Duesenbergs were the driving force behind the construction of the Kade-Duesenberg German House and Cultural Center, the Center for the Arts, the addition of the 19th century American paintings to the Brauer Museum of Art, and many other additional generous areas of support.

About Valparaiso University
Valparaiso University is a comprehensive independent Lutheran university with more than 4,000 students on its campus located in Northwest Indiana, an hour from Chicago. Valpo is a community of purpose-driven, service-minded and ethical individuals who embrace the pursuit of truth with freedom, humility and compassion. Valpo has been identified as one of the top master’s-level institutions in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report magazine for the past 22 years. Valparaiso University offers 110 undergraduate academic programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering and Nursing. Valpo also has a distinguished honors college, a School of Law and more than 40 degree and certificate programs in its Graduate School and Continuing Education Division. Valpo has been recognized for its commitment to outstanding teaching, preparing thoughtful leaders with strong cross-cultural skills and global awareness, and dedication to serving others.