“A life lived with integrity — even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune — is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come.”

— Denis Waitley, author

Good morning, Valpo!

It’s New Year’s Day at Valpo, the beginning of an academic year. We have all turned a page in the books of our lives and there is a blank sheet before us, just waiting for the next chapter to be written. This is one of the great gifts of our years together at the University — the chance each fall to start anew, to turn the page, to author a new chapter.

The environment this special morning is electric, filled with energy and the excitement of a new year’s celebration. It is great to be at Valparaiso University this morning and to share this day with all of you. Welcome! To returning students, faculty, and staff: welcome back. I hope the summer provided you with time for rejuvenation and reflection (and more than a little fun) and that you are ready for another extraordinary year.

To new students, faculty, and staff: welcome to your new home. Each member of the Valparaiso University community plays a vital role in creating and contributing to our common pursuit of truth that distinguishes this University. We’re thrilled for you to join us in this quest.

One of our cardinal values at Valpo is to live lives devoted to leadership and service. We aspire to be people of integrity. Whether you are called to be a teacher, a doctor or nurse, an entrepreneur, a pastor, lawyer or engineer, leading with honesty and integrity will bring you great satisfaction and recognition in your career and in your life.

This afternoon at Opening Convocation, the largest class in more than 30 years will process into the Chapel of the Resurrection and sign the honor code: I have neither given or received, nor have I tolerated others’ use of unauthorized aid. These 15 words embody our collective commitment as members of the Valpo community to live lives of integrity in this place. For we hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard — one of honor, truth, and authenticity.

Soon your calendars will be filled with classes, work, meetings, and events of all kinds. In the midst of your busy schedules, remember to take time for reflection, whether at Morning Prayer in the Chapel, which has moved to 10 a.m. this year, or during a quiet break between classes and meetings. It is often in the stillness of these moments that we find the clarity we need to live as our best, most true selves.

As you make plans for the fall semester and settle into a routine, remember that you are called to live a life of integrity. And in so doing, I hope that you will seek knowledge in all that you do, practice gratitude for your many blessings, and have courage to live a life that defies expectations.

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


Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D.