Entrance Torch 2

End of Year

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” — T.S. Eliot

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As we celebrate the end of another academic season, I am reminded of all the explorations, achievements, and discoveries that have occurred this year. I am grateful for all that you do to support the mission of Valparaiso University and contribute to this exceptional place where passion meets purpose.
There are many reasons to be filled with enthusiasm and gratitude as we conclude this year, despite the challenges that we face as a University, a state, and a nation. Valparaiso University has always faced its challenges with a commitment to dialogue across differences in perspective and belief and an unswerving desire to seek truth and understanding when faced with complex problems. We have also been a place that cultivates humility, including intellectual humility, which calls us to begin any dialogue, regardless of perspective, from the position that each of us has an opportunity to learn from the exchange and retains an openness to consider that we may be wrong in our assumptions. Finally, as a University that grounds itself in a Christian Lutheran ethos, Valparaiso University commits itself to be a community of forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation.
I am confident that the faculty and staff of this institution will re-double our collective commitment to these guiding principles whenever we are faced with intellectual and moral challenges and that we will welcome all people, regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs, and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Given these commitments, we will often find ourselves at the nexus of many of the world’s conflicts and problems. Emotions will run high; the way forward will not always be clear. So, we must dedicate ourselves to both model for our students and demonstrate to the world just how we find our way forward, always striving to create a community of love and mutual respect, even when our differences may be irreconcilable.
This important work will continue in the weeks, months, and years to come. Yet, it is appropriate at these points in the season to take stock of our efforts, particularly as a community of teaching and learning dedicated to student success. Looking back over the past 10 months, we can see that the 2014–2015 academic year was filled with major accomplishments and successes:

  • We witnessed our largest total enrollment since 1981, and overall enrollment for the 2015–2016 academic year continues to be impressive.
  • In the fall, we dedicated Beacon Hall and the Warren G. Hoger Track, and this spring, we broke ground on the new sorority housing facility.
  • We also acquired the former Porter Hospital property to make room for new programs and facilities.
  • Throughout the year, Valpo received a number of national accolades, including being named the No. 3 master’s university in the country for our contribution to the public good by Washington Monthly and the No. 5 best regional university by U.S. News & World Report, who also recognized Valpo as No. 2 in the Midwest for best undergraduate teaching.
  • Our men’s basketball and women’s soccer teams united Valpo fans near and far by winning the Horizon League Championship and earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
  • The Brauer Museum of Art brought a number of installations to campus, including the renowned sculpture installation, “Borders,” by Icelandic artist Steinumm Thorarinsdottir.
  • During spring break, students, faculty, and staff participated in service-learning trips throughout the country and the world, dedicating themselves to helping others. And community service takes place through organized and grassroots efforts every day throughout our campus and community.
  • And the graduates that you have helped prepare continue to succeed, as our graduate placement rate exceeded 90 percent for the 22nd consecutive year.
  • It has been an excellent year for student learning with a rich summer in store. Students continue to strive for academic excellence, and the graduating class is entering a promising marketplace. Our current students and faculty continue their research and hands-on learning this summer through numerous experiences:
  • The Institute for Leadership and Service has selected 20 CAPS Fellows who will intern in non-profit and service-oriented organizations in Northwest Indiana, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Austin.
  • College of Engineering students will conduct undergraduate research on campus focusing on concentrated solar energy and biomechanics and will assist in the development of the College’s first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC).
  • Two College of Engineering faculty members will teach engineering courses in Dalian, China, through a recently announced partnership with Dalian Jiaotong University. Additionally, the College is launching a four-week Study Abroad program in Reutlingen, Germany.
  • Sociology and criminology majors, Corrina Qualls and Malachia Jones-Bone will work at the Jameson Camp, a youth program that focuses on leadership development in Indianapolis.
  • Associate Professor Elizabeth Gingerich, from the College of Business, will travel to Geneva, Switzerland to attend the joint symposium on World Trade and to Paris, France for an intensive course on international trade alternative dispute resolution.
  • The MSEED program and the education department will begin a program at the Valpo Study Center in San Jose, Costa Rica, led by Assistant Professor Robert Clark and Associate Professor Kevin Gary.
  • Assistant Professor Mark Farmer, with the classics department, will offer a summer course in Italy.
  • The Chinese and Japanese studies program is offering a course and internship at the Valpo Study Center in Hangzhou, China, led by Professor Renu Juneja.
  • Associate Professor Matthew Becker, from the theology department, will lead a group of students and alumni on a trip to Italy and Germany.
  • Students will complete a business internship in San Jose, Costa Rica; a Spanish language program in Barcelona, Spain; and a human trafficking program in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Faculty and staff members will participate in retreats at the Valpo Study Center in Cambridge, England.
    I am confident that you will approach this summer as a time to spend with family and loved ones and to reflect, relax, and rejuvenate. I pray that this will be an intellectually and personally satisfying time for you. And just as T.S. Eliot suggests, may our summer explorations bring us to the start of another academic year filled with hope and opportunity.



Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D.