Entrance Torch

Valpo alumni commit $3 million to establish endowed director position for Institute for Leadership and Service

Valparaiso University alumni Peter ’65, ’70 M.A. and Bonnie Thalacker ’70 Raquet have generously committed $3 million to establish the Endowed Director’s Chair for the Institute for Leadership and Service. When fully funded, the endowment will provide a permanent source of support for the Institute’s programs, which advance Valpo’s mission of preparing students for lives of leadership and service.

“When the idea of the Institute first was formed, there was recognition that Valpo could have a dedicated place where students would be exposed to the core principles of leadership and service,” said Peter Raquet.

“Today’s students are part of a life-changing generation,” Bonnie Raquet added. “We want to support Valpo and ensure students are prepared to lead positive change for a more courageous and compassionate world.”

Established in 2012, the Institute for Leadership and Service works across the University community to help students integrate their academic study, service experience and career goals with a deeper sense of calling and purpose. Through the Pathways to Purpose Speakers Series, Calling and Purpose in Society (CAPS) Fellows Program and Center for Civic Reflection, the Institute engages students with a mix of discussion, experiential learning and leadership development opportunities.

In addition to the $3 million commitment to endow the director position, earlier support from the Raquets was instrumental in launching the CAPS Fellows Program in 2014. In its inaugural year, 12 CAPS Fellows served summer internships at regional and national service organizations. The program expanded to 20 students in 2015 and hopes to place as many as 30 CAPS Fellows in 2016.

“Bonnie and Peter Raquet have made it possible for Valpo to advance the Institute for Leadership and Service from a vision to a reality,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of Valparaiso University. “All of us are so grateful for their support, which will have a permanent impact on this University. The endowed director position will provide resources in perpetuity, ensuring that the Institute continues to offer programs that prepare Valpo students for lives of leadership and service.”

Bonnie Raquet earned a bachelor of arts in history from Valpo, a master of arts in history from Cleveland State University and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota. She is the vice-chair of the Valparaiso University Board of Directors, having served since 2001. Bonnie held leadership positions with Cargill, joining the company as an attorney in 1982 and retiring as corporate vice president, with responsibility for worldwide corporate affairs, in 2011. She currently is chair of the Luther Seminary Foundation Board of Directors, vice-chair of the board of directors of World Food Program USA and a member of the board of directors of the Luther Seminary and Thrivent Financial.

Peter Raquet has a bachelor of arts in German and a master of arts in liberal studies from Valpo. He received a master of divinity from Luther Northwestern Seminary, a master of arts from Webster University and a doctor of ministry from Wesley Seminary. Peter is a Lutheran minister, most recently serving as an interim pastor in the Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA.