Evolution Of Academics

Valparaiso University continues to be known for its pathseeking and career-defining education, due in no small part to the transformations of each college within the campus community. Revisit the journey the University and its colleges took to become a studentcentered community where the potential of every student receives a total Valpo commitment.

The Valparaiso Male and Female College opened in the fall of 1859, with three departments: normal, preparatory, and collegiate. After closure due to the losses of the Civil War, the university then reopened in 1873. The Lutheran University Association purchased the University in 1925, giving Valpo the distinguished traditions of scholarship, faith, and freedom.

The student-initiated Honor Code was created in 1943, and 70 years later a new tradition was added as new students signed their name in the official Honor Code book during Opening Convocation.

The Valpo Core system was implemented during the 1998–1999 academic year, continuing the University’s commitment to undergraduate education as students first arrive on campus.

In recent years, Valpo continues to grow and transform its various colleges in order to continue to be a highly regarded undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution where each student’s full potential can be reached.


The earliest history of Valpo showed its dedication to a STEM education with each department offering courses in mathematics and science. After its reopening in 1873, the addition of composition, language, and literature courses added roots in the liberal arts.

The year 1995 saw the Center for the Arts building dedicated as the home for the visual and performing arts at Valpo. The College of Arts and Sciences gained a new home in 2012, and more recently, the Center for the Sciences: Chemistry and Biochemistry was completed, giving students exceptional undergraduate research opportunities within the labfocused building.


Business school offerings began at Valpo after the University reopened in 1873 under the name the Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute. Urschel Hall was dedicated in 1979 and named for the late William E. Urschel 1901, a Valpo alumnus and founder of Urschel Laboratories Inc.

Urschel Hall is still the home of Valpo’s College of Business, and students participate in a multitude of courses and extracurricular activities. The Innovation Hub, dedicated in 2017, also adds an interdisciplinary focal point built around fostering entrepreneurial relationships with Valpo students and the Valparaiso community.


In 1958, the earliest version of Christ College was founded. It is the thirdoldest honors college in the United States. Modeled after universities at Oxford and Cambridge in England, Christ College invites first-year students to join the honors program, in which they engage in accelerated types of required first-year classes. Christ College scholars are concurrently enrolled in one of Valpo’s other colleges. The Christ College building, Mueller Hall, was dedicated in 1970 for its main supporter, the late Reverend Ewald H. Mueller, a longtime Lutheran pastor.


The engineering department (now the College of Engineering) was implemented in 1876 with an original focus on civil engineering. Students were able to strike a deal with the university in 1949, stating how they would build a new engineering facility if a four-year program were to be offered again. This student-built engineering laboratory was the home of the College of Engineering until the Gellersen Engineering and Mathematics Center finished construction.

With the addition of the Donald V. Fites Engineering Innovation Center in 2011, the College of Engineering was able to expand its resources into another space and provide new opportunities for current and future students. The James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility is the newest addition to the engineering family, putting both Valpo faculty and students on the cutting edge of solar energy research.


With an increased emphasis on health care and the sciences, the University opened the College of Nursing in 1968, which expanded into the College of Nursing and Health Professions in 2014. The first nursing class graduated in 1971, and LeBien Hall was dedicated that year as the home for the College of Nursing. The dedication of the LeBien Hall, Annex B in 2018 gave Valpo’s growing physician assistant program a new home complete with innovative classrooms and upgraded laboratories.