Entrance Torch

Valparaiso University Academic Year Concludes With Commencement Ceremonies May 14–15

Spring commencement caps another exciting year for the Valparaiso University community as it continues its legacy in education, leadership, faith and service. The University along with its students and faculty marked achievements during the 2015-2016 academic year in the classroom and beyond.

“As our year comes to a close, I admire the dedication to learning, leadership, and service that our students and faculty exhibit every day,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president. “With this passion for excellence so present in our community, I am grateful for the achievements and discoveries made each day at this very special place.”

Here’s a look back at highlights for Valparaiso University’s 2015–2016 academic year:

AugustMove-In Day


  • Move-In Day marked a 41-year high for total enrollment with 4,544 students, including record levels of graduate enrollment, at 916 students, and international students at 727.
  • Washington Monthly named Valparaiso University Best in Nation for Contribution to the Public Good.


  • U.S. News and World Report ranked Valparaiso University No. 1 Best Value in the Midwest, No. 2 for Best Undergraduate Teaching in the Midwest and No. 5 Overall Best Regional University in the Midwest.
  • Homecoming Football GameAndrew Nunemaker ’91 established an emergency scholarship fund for students whose education is threatened by emergency financial situations.
  • Valparaiso University broke ground for the Center for the Sciences: Chemistry and Biochemistry Building, set to open in fall 2017.
  • The National Science Foundation awarded Valparaiso University $223,753 for chemistry research.
  • During Homecoming Weekend, Valpo dedicated the Kathleen and Mark Helge Center, adjacent to the Chapel.


  • President Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., joined seven other higher education presidents in signing the Indiana Campus Compact Presidential Agreement to educate students and graduates who give back to their communities and advance the public good.20151010 JLH Day of Caring-009
  • Associate Professor Liz Wuerffel, graduate Saddam Al-Zubaidi, and graduate student Sarhang Sherwany were selected to present their documentary “Kawergosk: Home Made of Cloth” at the Redlands Film and Beer Festival.
  • Peter ’65, ’70 M.A. and Bonnie Thalacker ’70 Raquet committed $3 million to establish the Endowed Director’s Chair for the Institute for Leadership and Service.


  • Valpo was recognized as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media, the leader in successfully connecting military and civilian worlds.
  • Susan D. Scroggins, CPA, ’04 MBA was named Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Susan D. Scroggins, CPA, '04 MBA


  • On Dec. 4–5, more than 200 Valpo students performed in the annual Christmas Concert, participating in a 90-year tradition.
  • The annual Advent Christmas Vespers on Dec. 12 featured the Kantorei Choir and the Handbell Choir of the Chapel of the Resurrection.
  • “Legendary Lloyd” McClendon ’81, ‘05H delivered the December Commencement address.Graduates at December Commencement


  • The University was recognized as one of Kiplinger Personal Finance’s 100 best value in private colleges for 2016. The ranking recognizes universities that combine outstanding academics with affordable cost.
  • Actors From The London Stage returned for a weeklong residency during the third annual Shakespeare Week.
  • Charles “Chuck” Schaefer, professor and chair of international studies, received the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Award during the annual MLC Celebration. The Jan. 18 convocation featured a keynote address by Freeman A. Hrabowski III, civil rights leader and chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.Freeman A. Hrabowski III during MLK Convocation
  • The Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission of the Indiana Health Department awarded Valparaiso University a $200,000 grant for the College of Nursing to implement the Tobacco Education and Prevention Coalition for Porter County.
  • Jan Sievers ’59 Schrage and Paul Schrage ’57 committed $2 million to establish the Paul D. and Janet C. Schrage Endowed Recruitment Fund for Men’s Basketball.


  • St. John Passion performance in Chapel of the ResurrectionThe Leipzig Baroque Orchestra joined the Bach Institute and the Chorale to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s “St. John Passion” at the Chapel of the Resurrection, kicking off a limited-engagement tour of the Midwest.
  • Alec Peters ’17 became the first player in Valparaiso University history to be named the CBS Player of the Week in NCAA Division I Basketball.
  • Valpo received $210,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy and $129,000 from the National Science Foundation for nuclear physics research.


  • Men’s basketball advanced to the National Invitation Tournament final for the first time and made Valpo history finishing the season with a 30-7 record, the first time the program recorded 30 wins in a single season.

Fans and players celebrate NIT win at the Athletics-Recreation Center Cheerleaders with Ginger Zee at Good Morning America

  • Valparaiso University hosted its inaugural TEDx event on March 29 with the theme, “The Power of &.”
  • The University introduced data science and statistics programs beginning in fall 2016.
  • Ron Zech ’65, along with his late wife Gisela Gerber ’66 Zech, committed $1.5 million to establish the Gisela and Ron Zech Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide scholarship support for veterans who suffered significant wounds or disabilities during their service, as well as the children or dependents of wounded veterans or veterans who lost their lives during service.


  • The men’s basketball program began a new chapter as Matt Lottich was hired as head coach. He joined Valpo’s coaching staff in 2013.
  • Zuhdi Aljobeh, Sandra Bleza, and George Pati were selected as the 2016–2017 Valparaiso University Excellence in Teaching Award recipients.
  • Dance MarathonThe Valpo community raised more than $40,000 for Lurie Children’s Hospital during the fourth annual Dance Marathon and raised more than $100,000 in the event’s first four years at Valparaiso University.
  • Valpo’s third annual Day of Giving, Proud to be Valpo, raised $637,440 from more than 2,600 donors.
  • More than 90 percent of recent graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school for the 23rd consecutive year.


  • The men’s tennis team won its first Horizon League regular season championship as well as the tournament championship, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
  • The May Commencement ceremonies on May 14–15 will celebrate the achievements of 681 undergraduate, 327 graduate, and 155 law students.

Commencement cap: Dream Big

The 2016-2017 academic year kicks off Aug. 23 with the University’s annual Opening Convocation and Taste of Valpo celebration.