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Valparaiso University 2019–2020 Year in Review

In a year marked by unpredictability, Valparaiso University students, faculty, and staff have much to be grateful for as the 2019–2020 academic year draws to a close.

The University has committed to holding a Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 when it is appropriate to do so. The cohort of bright, young scholars joins a community of more than 60,000 Valpo alumni around the world and are already making an impact.

Caleb Alles ’20, Juan Arellano ’20, Danny Dalenberg ’20, and Nathaniel Weber ’20 have been named to the Orr Fellowship, a prominent, two-year, post-graduate program combining a full-time position at an innovative, Indianapolis-based company with a curriculum focused on community involvement, professional development and leadership. And, 10 graduating seniors and recent alumni were named semi-finalists for competitive Fulbright grants.

Throughout their time at Valpo, students are guided and mentored by dedicated faculty who are continually recognized for their work.

Rick Gillman, D.A., associate provost for faculty affairs and professor of mathematics and statistics at Valparaiso University, received a 2019 Certificate of Meritorious Service from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

Carlos Miguel-Pueyo, professor of Spanish and head of the Spanish section at Valparaiso University, was invited by the Royal Spanish Academy of Language to serve as one of two correspondents from the United States for a newly created international initiative.

Led by Daniel Blood ’10, Ph.D., assistant professor of mechanical engineering and bioengineering, a team of Valparaiso University faculty collaborated to 3D print and assemble face shields for health care professionals in need of additional personal protective equipment.

In September 2019, Valparaiso University was honored by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Undergraduate Teaching universities in the country during its first year of eligibility for this national list. Valpo was newly classified as a national Doctoral/Professional University by Carnegie Classification of Institutions of higher education, which U.S. News & World Report uses in its annual higher education rankings. In its first time included on the overall rankings list, Valpo was ranked No. 153 out of 381 in the category, which includes all of the nation’s most elite public and private doctoral granting institutions.

In addition to being listed on the National Universities ranking, Valpo’s undergraduate engineering program is ranked No. 13 nationally on the Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs list for 2020. The College of Engineering recently added a program in mechatronics, building on its outstanding offerings for undergraduate students.

The College of Nursing and Health Professions celebrates its first cohort of graduates from the two-year accelerated portion of the physician assistant studies program, and in the College of Arts and Sciences, the music therapy program received official accreditation from the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

Forever Valpo: The Campaign for Our Future saw its support increase significantly this year, with gifts toward the project to renovate Bauer Field, the University’s baseball field, as well as a historic $15 million gift for student scholarships.

In Valpo Athletics, student-athletes continue to excel in competition, in the classroom, and in the community. Men’s Basketball made an unprecedented run to the Missouri Valley Conference title game by becoming the lowest seed to reach the final game in the 30-year history of Arch Madness, and Women’s Basketball took several strides forward with the largest jump in RPI ranking of any Division I team in the nation.

Valparaiso University also hosted numerous events throughout the year. The annual MLK Celebration brought the scholar Imani Perry to campus. Perry has written and taught on a number of topics regarding race and African American culture, and her work often focuses on multifaceted issues such as the influence of race on law, literature, and music.

As the University moved to remote learning this spring, students, faculty, and staff quickly adapted to hold virtual events including college and departmental ceremonies to recognize graduating students, eight worship opportunities each week including special Holy Week services, Career Center events, wellness webinars, research presentations, and more. The Harre Union, Fraternity and Sorority Life, and Valpo Athletics also shifted their annual awards seasons to recognize outstanding students via social media.

Valpo students’ commitment to leadership, service and generosity continued virtually as well. Dance Marathon raised more than $56,000 to support Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and the Social Action Leadership Team’s World Relief Campaign has raised nearly $10,000 to support the Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants, a nonprofit based in Chicago.

Valparaiso University will be open and is now hard at work on plans to return to in-person classes on campus in the fall 2020 semester, while prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of all students, faculty, and staff.