ASEE RECOGNIZES DIVERSITY AT VALPO
Valparaiso University values diversity, equality, and inclusion in all of its programs. The College of Engineering was awarded bronze level recognition by the American Society for Engineering Education’s (ASEE) Diversity Recognition Program (ADRP) for making significant, measurable progress in increasing inclusion and degree attainment outcomes for students of less-represented backgrounds.
Bronze level recognition indicates that the College of Engineering has demonstrated a commitment to establishing baseline support for underrepresented groups in engineering; quantifiably analyzing and assessing unit composition, policies, culture and climate related to all groups underrepresented in engineering; implementing programs and initiatives that strengthen the K-12 or community college pipeline, thereby reducing significant barriers related to long-term growth; and developing an action plan focused on continuous improvement.
Support for such students within the college include chapters of the Society for Hispanic Professionals in Engineering (SHPE), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). All three organizations provide academic and social support, professional development, and opportunities for connections that underrepresented students may otherwise not have.
The University was officially recognized at the Collaborative Network for Engineering Computing and Diversity (CoNECD) 2022 meeting in February. Bronze level recognition is the highest level of recognition for diversity.
TOP MATHEMATICAL MINDS CONVERGE ON VALPO
Thanks to the efforts of Lara Pudwell, Ph.D., professor of mathematics and statistics, the international mathematics and statistics conference Permutation Patterns came to Valparaiso University on June 20, 2022 for five days of discussion and collaboration on problems related to sorting algorithms and computer science questions. Over 50 academics from eight countries came together to share ideas, make connections, and try the special “Permutation Patterns” IPA named for the event.
MAKING AN IMPACT ON THE FIELD AND IN THE CLASSROOM
The Valparaiso University football team matched the Pioneer Football League (PFL) record for number of students on the league honor roll during the 2021-22 season, with 60 members making the cut. The announcement marks the ninth consecutive year that Valpo football has had 40 or more players receive this honor.
VALPARAISO UNIVERSITY SUPPORTS THE ARMED SERVICES
VIQTORY, a service-disabled, veteran- owned small business (SDVOSB), has recognized Valparaiso University as a 2022–2023 Military Friendly® school. The award indicates that Valpo has demonstrated significant success in the areas that matter most in helping veterans make the often difficult transition from military life to the higher education setting.
Valpo Veteran Student Services assists active duty, reserve, military personnel, veterans, and dependents with successfully achieving their degrees. Services include mental and physical health care assistance, financial aid, advising, legal services, and social connections to ensure that these students can make Valpo their home.
Established in 2009 and using public data, The Military Friendly® Schools designation provides service members with transparent, data-driven rankings about post-military education and career opportunities. VIQTORY connects the military community to civilian employment, educational, and entrepreneurial opportunities through its G.I. Jobs® and Military Friendly® brands.
MENTAL HEALTH GETS A BOOST
The safety and well-being of our students is the highest priority for Valparaiso University. As well as caring for the physical health of those on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is also committed to ensuring the mental health and safety of those who study here. In October 2021, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded the University a three-year $247,273 grant to support suicide prevention on campus.
Thanks to this grant, Valpo can continue the “More-of-Us’’ initiative, a program that creates a safer campus community and decreases risks by promoting life. Launched in 2018, More-of-Us serves the general student body, especially those identified as being at higher risk, including those in the LGBTQIA+, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) populations in the student body.
VALPO ALUMNA MAKING COMMUNITY HISTORY
During a time when a national conversation about police procedure pushed for new approaches to conflict resolution, Valpo alumni stepped up to make those ideas a reality. Samantha Burgett ’20, MSW, made history in the Valparaiso community by being named the first police social worker in the Valparaiso Police Department.
Samantha was a double-major in sociology and social work. After Valpo, Samantha went on to earn her master’s in social work in 2021 from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). She returned to Valparaiso to work in the Porter County Prosecutor’s Office, and quickly made the connections she needed to fill the brandnew position of police social worker in September 2021.
Samantha’s duties include assisting the police in situations related to mental health, including substance abuse, housing instability, and domestic violence. She also helps provide officers with the training needed to function optimally, and the resources to improve their own overall mental well-being. Beyond the station, she collaborates with other local agencies to improve the systems of care available to the community.
The idea for the position came as part of the department’s overall wellness initiative introduced by Valparaiso Police Chief Jeff Balon in partnership with Caroline Ban, MSW, the program director and assistant professor in the Valparaiso University social work department. The position is made possible thanks to funding provided by community health service organization HealthLinc.
VALPO ALUMNI REPRESENTS THE REGION
Clifford D. Johnson ’76, ’80 J.D., was sworn in as the United States attorney for the Northern District of Indiana on
Oct. 6, following unanimous confirmation by the United States Senate. He served the district as assistant U.S. attorney for 34 years, from 1986–2020, and held numerous supervisory and management positions during his tenure. With this confirmation, Johnson is officially the first African American person named to this position in the district.
Prior, Johnson was a trial attorney in the employment litigation section of the Department of Justice’s civil litigation section of the department’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., a post he held from 1980–1985.
Johnson earned his B.A. from Valparaiso University in 1976, and his J.D. from the Valparaiso University Law School in 1980.
VALPARAISO UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR TACKLES THE PROBLEM OF BOREDOM
Kevin Gary, Ph.D., professor of education at Valparaiso University, has published a book titled, “Why Boredom Matters: Education, Leisure, and the Quest for a Meaningful Life,” with Cambridge University Press. Rather than avoidance or acceptance, Professor Gary advocates for a productive mindset towards boredom that can reshape the classroom environment.
The third full year of the Valparaiso University Esports team came to a victorious close as the Overwatch team capped off an undefeated spring season by taking first place at the National Esports Collegiate Conference Navigators Tournament on May 26, 2022.
In order to attain victory, the Overwatch team had to go through Huntington University, another undefeated team that, while they had scrimmaged multiple times, Valpo had never played in an official competition. The contest was a five-game series, with Valpo starting strong with a game one victory. Huntington was ready to fight back, however, turning the tables with a win in game two. Huntington was unable to build momentum on the win, however, and Valpo took games three, four, and finally game five to secure the overall win.
The Valparaiso University Super Smash Brothers team also saw success in the 2021-2022 school year, winning the regular spring conference of the Great Lakes Esports Conference.
A CLEARER PATH TOWARDS A BRIGHTER FUTURE
Valparaiso University and Ivy Tech Community College (ITCC) entered into five articulation agreements in 2022, allowing students at the associate degree level a clearer, easier path towards pursuing their bachelor’s degree.
The agreements are for students looking to transfer into Valpo’s computer science, biology, psychology, chemistry, and engineering programs. Valparaiso University was also recognized as a transfer-friendly institution in 2022 by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
HOMELESS JESUS — THE HEART OF THE VALPO CAMPUS
Since his inauguration in November 2021, Valparaiso University President José D. Padilla, J.D., has placed a special emphasis on one of campus’s most striking landmarks: the Homeless Jesus sculpture. The form of a homeless man wrapped head to heels in a blanket, with only the holes in his feet to mark him as Jesus, this evocative statue is meant to encourage us to acknowledge those less fortunate than ourselves, and also to remind us that Jesus is in solidarity with us during our own trying times.
Placed between the Harre Union and the Chapel of the Resurrection, this statue was originally designed by Canadian artist Timothy P. Schmalz, and came to campus in June 2015 thanks to a generous gift by Ron ’58 and Janet Reimer. Intentionally placed outside of the Chapel, the message of Homeless Jesus is meant to go beyond religion and belief and find itself embedded in our daily lives. Homeless Jesus represents the Valpo mission of “Caring for others and doing good in the world” and preserving our Lutheran identity, while opening our mission to peoples of all faiths.
To keep others in their thoughts, students, faculty, staff, and visitors are encouraged to touch or acknowledge Homeless Jesus whenever they pass. Students have held food drives near the statue, and the Valpo football team has stopped to acknowledge Homeless Jesus after victories, acknowledging the blessings that they have been given.
FACULTY ADVISOR RECEIVES INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION
Coleen Wilder, Ph.D., retired associate professor of information and decision sciences at Valparaiso University, has been named the 2022 Chapter Advisor of the Year by the international business honors society Beta Gamma Sigma. Wilder was instrumental in establishing the annual international tea party, organizing the collection of food for local pantries, and arranging numerous appearances by speakers from various professional fields.
VOLLEYBALL SERVES AN AMAZING SEASON
The Valparaiso University volleyball team turned in an amazing performance in the 2021 season, winning 26 matches and advancing to the postseason for the eighth time in program history. The team made a run to the championship match of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship and hosted the title match against UNLV in front of a school-record crowd at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
With 26 victories, including a pair of early-season tournament championships Valpo enjoyed one of the winningest seasons in program history. The Beacons went on to finish in third place in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 12-6 conference record — the program’s best record and best finish since joining the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).
Rylee Cookerly ’21, ’24 DNP, wrapped up an exceptional time as a collegiate volleyball player with 3,175 career digs, the second highest in NCAA Division I history. Cookerly has also been named two-time MVC Libero of the Year and was a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Midwest Region team for the spring 2021 season. She also holds the Valpo record for single match digs.
Additionally, Haley Hart ’25 was named a First Team All-MVC selection. Peyton McCarthy ’21 represented Valpo on the Second Team All-MVC, while Elise Swistek ’25 earned an All-Freshman Team selection. Cookerly, Hart, Bella Ravotto ’23 and Brittany Anderson ’20, ’22 M.S., were also named to MVC Scholar – Athlete Teams.
SECOND YEAR OF HONORS FOR VALPO GOLFER
Valpo men’s golf star Caleb VanArragon ’23 is now the second player in Valparaiso University men’s golf history to be named 2021-2022 CoSIDA Academic All-District® At-Large First Team for District 5 for a second consecutive season. VanArragon has earned a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average as a double-major in biology and statistics.
Proud to Be Valpo
Inspired by what our faculty and staff are already doing, the hardship fund, established by the Action Agenda for Racial Equality and Inclusion, provides low income students with financial assistance when faced with an unexpected and urgent situation that is distracting them from their academic endeavors.
Trending at Valpo
Beacon and Blaze have taken the field as the new Valparaiso University mascots.
The Chapel of the Resurrection was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Day of Giving 2022 raised $1,065,183 — a new record! Thank you to the 2,368 donors that contributed to our success!
The Beacon Blog is here to showcase all the wonderful people and opportunities at Valpo.
Rylee Cookerly ’24 became the Missouri Valley Conference All-Time Digs Leader with 3,175 digs during her career.
The Perfect Score
Valparaiso graduates enjoyed high placement percentages across all programs for 2022, including a perfect 100% job placement for Asian studies majors.