Here at Valparaiso University, the signs and symbols of fire and light have played an important role in shaping our story and our distinctive ethos. In the inaugural address given by former President William H.T. Dau in 1926, he said:
“This thought the new seal of Valparaiso University seeks to emphasize ‘In luce tua videmus lucem,’ — ‘In Thy Light Shall We See Light.’ The inspired truth of God’s book shall make plain and straight whatever is perplexing [humans] in any study … In devotion to [God] we shall pursue our allotted tasks … consecrating our every activity at this school to the spread of [God’s] glory among [God’s] children.”
Since that day, Valpo has placed pronounced emphasis on the flame, as we have used it as a symbol for qualities such as truth, revelation, knowledge, and enduring legacy. Most importantly, we’ve incorporated its significance into our mission and vision and into our daily work, as we live out our vocations as Valpo leaders who are doing important work for the sake of the world.
During the 2015-2016 academic year, that Valpo flame burned just as brightly as it has since the University was founded in 1859. It radiates in the work and life of our students, our faculty and staff, and our programs that prepare all to lead and serve. And when I see that flame radiating throughout this place, it gives me immense hope that the Valpo flame will continue to blaze forever.
In the pages that follow, you will read about the people and the programs that make this University an exceptional place of higher learning and the immense progress we have made in the past year to carry the Valpo legacy forward.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about all the ways Valpo continues to flourish and thrive, and thank you for all you do to embody the Valpo flame in your own lives.
Valpo students are the heart of this University. They are dedicated scholars and thoughtful and intentional servant-leaders. And when they graduate, they carry with them the Valpo torch — the Valpo legacy of faith, freedom, scholarship, leadership, and service. Now, more than ever, the world needs more Valpo leaders like our past and current students — students who are called to lead and serve for the sake of the world.
Our student body wouldn’t be what it is today without faculty and staff who give generously of their time and talents and who embody Valpo’s mission and vision.
Valparaiso University is at a pivotal moment where more than 40 percent of our exceptional faculty will reach retirement age within the next decade. And while we will greatly miss these exceptional mentors and friends, the University must select the next generation of faculty with great care. They must be uniquely qualified to teach at Valparaiso University, must embrace our ethos, and must be passionate about preparing servant-leaders at the intersection of faith and learning. They must also be open and eager to embrace new paradigms of teaching and learning that will emerge as our institution adapts to a rapidly changing higher education landscape.
The current faculty are gifted and passionate individuals — people that make this University a special place. In recognition of the significant and lasting contributions they have made in their field, to this University, and most importantly, to their students, we are working to raise the funds necessary to maintain and develop this exceptional group of mentors.
When our faculty members arrive here their first year, they learn quickly what it’s like to teach under our Lutheran model of higher learning. This summer, 22 new members of our faculty traveled to Valpo’s Cambridge center in England, where, through readings and conversation, they became more familiar with our Lutheran ethos. And last year, thanks to a grant from NetVUE, we were able to extend this program to several members of our administration. We hope to continue to find ways to offer this formative experience to more staff in the future.
The Campaign also focuses on the distinguished programs that prepare our students for lives of leadership and service. At Valpo, we offer a number of academic and co-curricular programs that cultivate calling and purpose, provide opportunities for truth-seeking and self-reflection, and prepare graduates who are well-rounded and professionally capable — graduates who will carry the Valpo torch with them wherever they go.
Our Study Abroad programs also continue to shape our students into culturally aware and thoughtful leaders and servants. Valpo sent 225 students to study abroad during the 2015-2016 academic year. This number has continued to hold steady for several years and it needs to grow. Provost Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D. recently announced a re-examination of Valpo’s study center model as one way to grow Study Abroad enrollment. And Forever Valpo is raising funds to provide study abroad scholarships for students.
The Chorale looks forward to next year, when they will perform as the only international choir in Wittenberg, Germany, as Protestants from around the world commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Construction on the Center for the Sciences continues to progress as well as plans to retrofit Neils Science Center, both of which will offer our science departments more classroom and state-of-the-art lab space and the ability to conduct innovative and interdisciplinary research. These new spaces will also help us attract talented and driven students who are passionate about pursuing the sciences in their future careers.
While our students, faculty, staff, and programs are core to our University’s identity and success, it’s the annual operating budget that fuels the Valpo flame. Without sustainable financial resources, we would not be able to accomplish our mission and advance our vision. That’s why Forever Valpo: The Campaign for Our Future stresses the ongoing importance of annual giving — the funds we rely on year after year that feed into our various departments and programs and support all of you who help operate our great institution day in and day out.
The past academic year was notable for the many achievements of students, faculty, and staff. We faced strong headwinds going into the year, yet we emerged having made progress academically, programmatically, and financially. People often ask me to what do I attribute Valpo’s continued resilience in a fragile higher education environment nationally. I tell them, first, because we are a place that prays for God’s guidance and God has blessed us time and again. And second, because of the exceptional people who dedicate their lives to this special place.
You tend the fire. You are the keepers of the flame. Each and every day you make tangible our mission and vision to prepare the kind of Valpo leaders the world needs. As we recap the past year, it only gives me more confidence that our future is bright, and that Valpo will remain a beacon of light well into the future. Forever Valpo.
Unlike previous campaigns, Forever Valpo is not about expanding our campus or building new facilities. It’s about you — the people who make Valpo an incredible institution at the crux of faith and learning.
By investing in Valpo students, faculty, and staff, and the distinctive programs that prepare Valpo graduates to lead and serve across the country and around the world, we will be able to secure the University’s financial future and carry on the legacy upon which the University was founded.
Valpo students of promise selflessly give their time serving as leaders of their organizations and in service to others. They volunteer in soup kitchens and nursing homes. In remote villages in Costa Rica and in orphanages in Haiti. They build wells and sustainable energy systems for communities without access to clean water and electricity. And they provide medical assistance to those without access to basic health care.
At Valpo we also have the pleasure of working with faculty who are committed to top-notch, interdisciplinary research — faculty who are zealous about involving students in that process. Craig Goehler, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is one such faculty member, who is working closely with engineering students like senior Rebekah Koehn ’17 as well as faculty and students in kinesiology.
Our Core and Christ College first-year experiences offer learning opportunities that are unique to Valpo, promoting interdisciplinary, experiential, and communal learning. Fueling the Valpo flame brightly since the late 1960s, next year we will celebrate 50 years since Christ College — The Honors College first formed.
The Writing Program at Valpo continues to take shape — aimed to infuse the first-year experience and expand to all four years, graduate, and legal education as well as we prepare our students to graduate with the communication skills they need to succeed post-graduation.
The Institute for Leadership and Service is another unique program that made considerable contributions since its inception. Last year, 25 students participated in the CAPS Fellows Program, a summer internship program designed to cultivate calling and purpose in society. Our students represented Valpo in service-oriented organizations across Northwest Indiana, the D.C. metro area, Chicago, and several other metropolitan areas across the country.
Now in its fourth year, we have found this program has been highly successful at helping to cultivate more of the kind of lifelong leaders the world needs — leaders who take with them the knowledge and experiences that mentors like director of the Institute Elizabeth Lynn help provide.
Our Spring Break and other service trips provide another way for our students to explore their passion and purpose. Last year, students traveled to more than 20 cities across the country and around the world through Spring Break trips as well as travel programs affiliated with various colleges across campus and sorority and fraternity service programs. These programs are growing. Last year, for example, 164 students took part in Spring Break trips abroad compared to 54 students five years prior.
While the Campaign focuses on those programs that are designed specifically to cultivate unique learning experiences across the entire campus, many colleges, departments, and programs across campus had much to celebrate this past academic year.
Several academic programs have recently expanded. In the College of Engineering, our recently launched bioengineering minor was so successful that it has now expanded into a major with three tracks — bioelectrical, biomechanical, and biomedical.
This past year, we also launched majors in data science and statistics, and we plan to launch exciting new programs like aviation in the near future.
Our Chapel facilities continue to grow and enhance. This past year, we replaced the old pews in the Chapel with beautifully crafted chairs that were adapted from the chairs originally designed for Coventry Cathedral in England. This enhancement transforms our Chapel into a multi-use faith and learning center that also provides worship spaces that fit more appropriately within a 21st century model of worship.
We also recently celebrated one year since the Helge Center was dedicated, which has allowed our mission and ministry staff to integrate more fully with students and the student organizations they advise and mentor. It has also allowed us to collaborate more intentionally with various interfaith, ecumenical, and community-centered groups throughout the area.
This fall, we opened the doors to the new sorority housing facility. The spaces, which are connected to one another — not just on the outside, but on the inside as well — were intentionally designed to foster Panhellenic collaboration and leadership among sorority women. We look forward to adding another sorority into our community soon.
In addition, we were able to complete a cosmetic renovation to Brandt Hall, replacing furniture, window treatments, and flooring in all of the rooms and providing an attractive new lobby and lounge space for students to enjoy.
Since opening last fall, Valpo’s OurHealth clinic averages 180 visits from eligible employees and family members at no cost to them.