VALPO PRIDE, a commitment to the arts, excellence in the classroom and in competition, ethical and ambitious leaders, and extraordinary alumni — these are just some of the things that make the Valpo community rich and vibrant. From new deans and coaches to art installations, athletic achievements, and alumni who are impacting the world, the University’s strong devotion to character and overall enrichment is evident.

The Arts at VALPO

THE ARTS WERE ALIVE — and thriving — at Valparaiso University in 2014. The Brauer Museum of Art welcomed a world-renowned artist’s work; Shakespeare Week was launched by Christ College in collaboration with departments in other colleges; and the Department of Music hosted dozens of performances while also announcing that Valpo’s esteemed Chorale will perform at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 2017 on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses, noted by historians as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.


What makes the Arts at Valpo so special is the collaboration among the departments as well as their accessibility to all students, regardless of their major.


“The performing arts at Valpo provide students the opportunity to seamlessly interact between disciplines, such as music and theatre, knowing that auditions are open, and placement is based upon skills and not major,” said Jeff Hazewinkel ’89, director of the Valparaiso University Center for the Arts (VUCA). “We certainly promote the ability to follow your dreams.”


In addition, significant scholarships are available to music and non-music major students, allowing skilled performers to pursue their passion for music while also studying another field.


While a vast majority of the arts programs at Valpo take place in one building, the VUCA, just outside the building’s walls, the installation of the acclaimed work “Borders” by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir meant that the entire Valpo community — not just those interested in the arts — could interact with this “challenging and highly regarded sculptural work,” said Gregg Hertzlieb, MFA, director and curator for the Brauer Museum of Art.


The 11 pairs of life-sized sculptures, made of cast iron and aluminum, represent contrasts in life and the human condition — light and shadow, heavy and light, heaven and earth. According to Thórarinsdóttir, the installation engages the viewers in a direct and intimate way and can be seen as symbols of humanity and cultural diversity.


“The figures are different and yet the same, just like the flesh-and-blood people who inspect and pose with these sculptures, and who each day experience differences with fellow humans that they try to resolve and comprehend as they inhabit the same spaces, essentially limited by borders both external and internal,” Director Hertzlieb said.


In addition to accessibility and collaboration, the various arts programs at Valpo intentionally intersect with faith, making the programs integral to the University’s Lutheran ethos.


For example, the Chorale is deeply connected to the historical musical roots of the Lutheran church, unlike any other school in the U.S. The Kantorei, a select 36-voice ensemble that serves the Chapel of the Resurrection, is known for exploration of international music and introduction of new liturgies and hymns. In addition, the Bach Institute at Valpo exists to ensure the legacy of the music and theological perspective of Johann Sebastian Bach for future generations.


In March 2014, Christ College — the Honors College — and the English and theatre departments launched what will be an annual Shakespeare Week, featuring events, performances, lectures, and a weeklong residency by Actors From The London Stage, one of the world’s most accomplished companies of classically trained actors.


“Our hope in starting the tradition of Shakespeare Week is to bring together the University community and the greater Valparaiso community through a series of high-profile cultural events,” said Peter Kanelos, Ph.D., Dean of Christ College and an expert on subjects related to Shakespeare.


“Shakespeare is a natural common point of interest for many people, so centering the week on Shakespeare made a good deal of sense,” he said. “Since Christ College is the meeting point for all the other undergraduate colleges — we draw students from every major at the University and many faculty from other departments to teach Christ College classes — Christ College was eager to host events that would appeal broadly across the community.”


Actors From The London Stage not only performed while they were on campus but also spent more than 40 hours visiting classrooms in several departments from English and theatre, to theology and the Law School.


“The goal of these visits is to realize the breadth of Shakespeare’s influence across the curriculum, as well as to engage students physically and intellectually,” said Kari-Anne Innes, Ph.D., coordinator of Shakespeare Week and program director and lecturer in the arts and entertainment administration program for the Graduate School at Valpo.

“Actors work with text from ‘Macbeth,’ as well as texts from the different courses, to guide students’ interpretations of a text through performance techniques, which is a very different approach from the literary analysis more familiar to the college classroom,” she said.   Elizabeth Burow-Flak, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the English department, said Shakespeare Week is especially important to Valpo students majoring in English.


“The study and creation of literature in English has always been linked to the fine and performing arts; plays are almost always written for performance, just as lyric poetry has often been sung, and literary texts have been adapted for dance, the concert hall, the visual arts, and the screen,” she said. “Many of our majors also study or are involved in music, art, or theatre.”


Shakespeare Week is part of the movement of annual festivals worldwide that illustrate how important Shakespeare’s works are in our communities and cultures, Professor Burow-Flak said.   “Shakespeare’s works are ours to perform, adapt, enjoy, and be moved by as we see fit,” she said.


Shakespeare Week 2015 will feature a series of events, including performances of scenes from “Romeo and Juliet” by the Chicago Street Theater; a lecture by the internationally known Shakespeare scholar, Gary Taylor; and a weeklong residence by Actors From The London Stage, capped off by three performances of “Macbeth.”




This academic year, Valpo Athletics embarked on a challenge unlike any other in the University’s history — to reward the most loyal and passionate athletic fans with unprecedented rewards, including the grand prize, one academic year of tuition completely free.


Bringing academics and athletics together in an innovative way, the Crusader Scholarship Challenge provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the energy that fans bring to athletic events while simultaneously supporting students’ academic pursuits.



On April 9, 2014, the Valpo community across the country and around the world broke University records for social media engagement and all-time one-day giving during Proud to be Valpo — Valparaiso University’s first-ever day of celebration and giving. In a single day, the University garnered $285,674 from 1,885 donors. Thanks to generous matching challenges from Barbara Schwarz ’76 and Bob ’82 and Kathy Christopher ’82 Hansen, 1,600 gifts were matched.

ALUMNI Spotlights



Kevin Folk ’07 arrived at Valpo ready to become the mechanical engineer that he is today. Now, just seven years after graduation, he follows in the footsteps of the mentors of his past by inspiring young colleagues and athletes to become tomorrow’s leaders and problem solvers.


Currently, Kevin is area manager for the aluminum-packaging production line at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, where he played an integral role in the line’s genesis. He said that, without Valpo and the College of Engineering, he may not have found the same caliber of career opportunities upon graduation.


“I had professors like Peter Johnson and the late Alan Bloom who did not hesitate to help me when I needed it and an alumni network that benefited me greatly,” he said. “Because of an engineering alumnus, I was able to secure my first job out of college.”


With Valpo’s emphasis on excellent teaching and small class sizes, Kevin said he was able to prosper, and in addition to his studies, he was afforded the opportunities to play football and serve as president of the Black Student Organization, where he was inspired by many other mentors and colleagues.


“During football training camp, the freshmen shared rooms with upperclassmen, so we could learn from them. When I became an upperclassman, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to mentor my younger teammates.”


Inspired by the professors and colleagues who helped him succeed, Kevin gives back to his community both as an employee and a coach. “I provide assistance to new employees at Anheuser-Busch as a member of the employee resources group,” he said. “The program allows new hires to network with senior colleagues for insight and advice.”


In addition, Kevin uses his Valpo football experience to coach at the high school level, where he has the opportunity to teach students not just about football but about life.

MEDICAL Entrepreneurship


With a Valpo degree as a solid educational base, an Air Force scholarship to attend medical school, and a desire to help people, Dr. Quenby Erickson ’94, D.O., utilizes her passion and skills in the field of dermatology, where she owns a practice on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.


“It takes a great deal of discipline and self-sacrifice to start a business,” she said. “In the past year, we have seen a lot of growth, and we are in a really good place.”


Upon graduation from Valpo, Quenby had plans to earn a Ph.D. in order to conduct cancer research. However, once she began she knew that medical school was a better fit, which allowed her to work directly with patients.


“I applied for an Air Force scholarship to attend medical school, and I was fortunate to have been accepted,” she said. “It was a privilege to be able to study medicine while also serving my country.”


Her funding to attend medical school and her experience in the Air Force allowed Quenby to hone her skills and save enough money to start her own practice, which has given the business a solid foundation.


While she has certainly accomplished a great deal since she graduated, Quenby attributes much of her success to her time at Valparaiso University. Having grown up in a family that traveled around the world through church and missionary work, Quenby was happy to call Valpo home for four years.


“One of the things I was looking for in a school was stability, and Valpo gave me exactly that,” she said. “Many of the professors that I had as a student, like Tom Goyne and Gil Cook, are still teaching at Valpo. That is a huge testament to the quality of the University.”


Gil Cook, Ph.D., senior research professor, remembers Quenby for her enthusiasm and outgoing personality. “Quenby was a great student, always cheerful and outgoing, which are exceptional qualities for someone in her particular field,” he said.


Quenby hopes to continue to grow her business, and she said she is fortunate to be in a career in which she helps people feel their best. “Every single month is better than the last, and that gives me confidence that this was the right path for me.”



He has been the voice of shows on TLC, OWN, and National Geographic Channel. Now classmates of Drew Forni ‘01 may recognize one of their own on a coveted primetime show — ABC’s “The Taste” with Anthony Bourdain.


Drew narrated and edited the seven episodes in the third season of the cooking competition series. The Los Angeles resident splits his time among editing and producing television and film projects, doing voiceover work, and appearing as a DJ at private events.


He said that Valpo set a strong foundation for his current success.


“Much of my inspiration came from the amazingly talented professors at Valparaiso University,” he said.


“What I learned from them has traveled with me in my daily actions. They left me with a solid baseline of real-world experiences from their classrooms to the opportunity of interning at Indiana 105 (radio station). I’m most proud of the ‘Jazz & Blues with Drew’ radio shows produced at (Valpo-student-managed) WVUR and band performances at the Center for the Arts.”


The communications major also studied music, playing the trombone in a variety of bands —from jazz to symphonic to smaller brass ensembles. He said his work with music professors even elevated his career as a DJ.


“So much of a successful DJ is mixing the right music while reading the crowd,” he said. “Their driven instruction came through my turntables at numerous Hollywood clubs more than a decade later.”


Drew’s next project is a spinoff of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” He will serve as lead editor on “Beyond The Tank,” at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. The show will air on ABC in spring or summer 2015.



Dean of the Law School


Dean Lyon began her tenure as the Law School’s first female dean in June 2014. Previously, the national expert in criminal defense served as associate dean for clinical programs at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, director of the Darrow Death Penalty Defense College, and director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases.


In 2013, the Law School implemented a new curriculum designed to expose students to the practice of law from their first day of courses. Taking on a progressive and innovative new program, Dean Lyon has worked diligently to catapult the Law School toward even greater success.


Ph.D. Dean of the Graduate School


Dean Ziegler has been a member of Valpo’s faculty since 2007, serving as chair of the communications department from 2011–2012. She has extensive experience teaching in a range of models including returning adult, scholarly, career preparation, practical, and skills-based.


In her role as dean, she has worked to enhance and expand Valpo’s graduate programs and enrollment. Overseeing the largest graduate enrollment in the University’s history, Dean Ziegler’s leadership is crucial to Valpo’s future growth and sustainability.


MBA Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration


In his current position, Senior Vice President Palmucci provides prudent oversight of the University’s strategic financial goals, advancing the work of the University’s Strategic Plan toward a vibrant and sustainable future.


Previously, Senior Vice President Palmucci served as the vice president for finance and treasurer at Loyola University Maryland. He has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, including an extensive background in strategic planning, integrated design and budgeting, cost and revenue review, feasibility studies, and sustainability.


Special Assistant to the Provost for Inclusion


Professor Powell joined Valpo’s faculty in 1994. He is actively involved on campus through the Diversity Concerns Committee, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee, and Faculty Senate. He holds an Ed.D. in instructional technology from Northern Illinois University and also serves as associate professor of communications at Valpo.


Professor Powell works with students, faculty, staff, and the community to explore opportunities and develop a proactive and positive strategy to make the University a more inclusive and welcoming community.


Head Football Coach


In November, Coach Cecchini concluded his first football season as Valpo’s head coach and has already made significant improvements to the program.


Coach Cecchini brings a wealth of experience to the football program, having recently served as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Lehigh University, where he was an All-American wide receiver who established numerous single-season school and Patriot League records. Prior to Lehigh, he was offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for The Citadel and Harvard.


Head Softball Coach


A 2005 graduate of Illinois State University, Coach Stake started four years at second base for the Redbirds, ranking among Illinois State’s all-time leaders in games started, hits, home runs, RBIs, and total bases.


She comes to Valpo with eight seasons of assistant coaching experience at the Division I level, most recently serving as an assistant coach at mid-major power Hofstra. Coach Stake is eager to take Valpo’s softball team to the next level and gain recognition for the program both regionally and nationally.