“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger. . . For the world was built to develop character.” — Henry Ford

Good morning, Valpo!

Today is the beginning of a new academic year at Valparaiso University. We both begin and continue our individual and collective journeys of discovery in the common pursuit of truth.

The campus is teeming with energy this morning, and I hope you feel the shared sense of excitement that comes with being a part of the Valpo community as we embark upon a new year together. It is a joy to welcome returning students, faculty, and staff back to campus. I trust the summer provided a time for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation and that you are eager to embark on another exceptional year. Welcome back!

To new students, faculty, and staff: welcome to your new home. Every member of the Valpo community plays an integral role in instilling, encouraging, and modeling the enduring virtues that embody those unique qualities and character that define this University. You will come to learn that no other University in the world attempts to bridge the differences that may separate us in quite the same way as Valpo. That’s because our unique focus on scholarship, freedom, and faith at that nexus of Athens and Jerusalem, borne of our particular history and Lutheran ethos, offers you an unparalleled community of learning, committed to the common pursuit of truth apart from a larger society too often roiled by battling ideologies. Indeed, Valpo remains a special place because of its unique character, and we are thrilled to have you with us. We look forward to the important contributions you will make to this University and to the world.

At Valpo, we aspire to be people known for our wisdom, our integrity, and our character. We commit ourselves to lives of leadership and service. As Henry Ford suggests, it is through experiences in the world that we grow in wisdom and character. And at Valpo, we hope to foster these experiences for you.

This afternoon at Opening Convocation, the incoming class will process into the Chapel of the Resurrection, receive the Shield of Character, and sign Valpo’s honor code: I have neither given or received, nor have I tolerated others’ use of unauthorized aid. The honor code represents our shared commitment to academic integrity in the pursuit of truth as members of the Valpo community.

As we proceed swiftly through a new semester, we will soon become immersed in classes, assignments, and events. In the midst of your full schedules, I encourage you to take the time for prayer and quiet discernment, whether at daily worship in the Chapel of the Resurrection or during a break between activities. Finding time for contemplation and reflection can be an important part of one’s daily routine that allows us to open our hearts for guidance and wisdom and to remain focused and fulfilled.

I am confident that this year’s journey will be filled with character-building experiences and personal epiphanies. And I am eager to see how our Valpo community evolves this year as we collectively discern our gifts, ignite our passions, and pursue God’s callings.

May this coming year bring you all of God’s blessings.


Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D.