Looking Back and Thinking Ahead
The 2008–2009 academic year has come to a close. Spring classes are over, grades are in, and the graduating class has received its charge. A few students linger for summer classes or internships, but campus is settling in for a quiet summer. After the year we’ve had, a quiet summer is exactly what we need. This has been a year like few others in the university’s history, and it is fitting that The Cresset should recognize the accomplishments of its host institution.
Valparaiso University has just wrapped up a year-long celebration of its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary. In recognition of the century and a half of service given by her faculty, staff, and students, the university put together a calendar filled with symposia, exhibits, performances, the dedication of the Harre Union, a gala dinner, and many more gatherings on campus and around the country.
One event of particular importance was the inauguration of Mark A. Heckler as the university’s eighteenth president. On 17 October 2008, the campus community gathered in the Chapel of the Resurrection to wish our new president well as he formally took office. The text of the new president’s (and also our new publisher’s) inaugural address can be found on page twenty-four of this issue.
So it’s been an important year for Valpo, a time to look back on the accomplishments of our past and to start thinking about our future. As times change, higher education must change with them. Even a small, Lutheran university like Valparaiso finds itself ever more engaged with the world. Students come to Valpo from—and go from Valpo to—places all over the world. They bring the diversity of their experiences and beliefs to us, as we offer ours to them. The changing world means that in this time of uncertainty, we must understand how developments in the new global economy can affect us as an institution, and we must prepare our students to compete in that economy. And as we introduce our students to a lifetime of learning, we must recognize that this will mean a lifetime of encountering and engaging people with faiths and values very different from our own.
The essays in this issue of The Cresset highlight a few of the events held on campus over this past year, and they encourage us to think about the new opportunities and challenges that Valparaiso University—and all other institutions of higher education––will face in the years to come.
In “Love Made Me an Inventor” (page 6), L. Gregory Jones, Dean of Duke Divinity School, offers guidance on how to sustain a sense of Christian vocation in the contemporary world. Prof. Jones’s essay originally was presented on 12 February 2009 as the 2009 Albert G. Huegli Lecture on Church-Related Higher Education.
In “The Return of Religion” (page 15), Lamin Sanneh, a professor at Yale Divinity School, looks at how the Christian faith is adjusting to a post-Cold War world. Prof. Sanneh’s essay is a revised version of a lecture he gave to an academic symposium held on 15 October 2008 in honor of President Heckler’s inauguration.
And in “Immigration, Identity, and Space” (page 30), Valparaiso University’s George Pati presents an ethnographic study of a flourishing community of Indian-Hindu immigrants living in Northwest Indiana.
These essays offer an overview of just a few of the changes happening in the world, in our faith, and in our communities. As Valpo remembers its past and plans for its future, we will respond to these changes and find new ways to prepare our students for lives of service to church and society over the next one hundred and fifty years.