Valparaiso University President Heckler:
Expect declining population in 4-year universities for about ten years. Students rarely attend a university more than 500 miles from home. The groups expected to increase are Latinos and returning adults. All educational institutions will have to rethink their financial models. We’ve completed several agreements. One is a satellite in New York. Another is on LSTC’s campus in Chicago. We’d like to have one in California and one in Texas. We are also offering VU courses in Chjna, India, South America and all over Europe. By 2013 our aim is to have 1,000 students in Mumbai. (And yes, they will be taking theology.)
40% of all Americans have moved away from their parents’ religion. We are also seeing an increasing pattern of conflict and decline among America’s Lutheran denominations. Alumni of every religious background tell us they value our Lutheran identity. “VU will be a distinguished Lutheran community of learning constituted by people of many and various beliefs and backgrounds in dialogue in pursuit of truth.” we want to strengthen the Lutheran ethos, while making all people feel welcomed. People want a place of learning where faith and calling play an important part.
The early foundation of Lutheranism was based on open debate and discussion of truth. How do we prepare students for a foundation of trust?
We are embracing technological change. Our incoming students are digital natives. We’re having to teach students how to concentrate on one thing at a time, write well and speak to others (not text them). At the same time we are assuming ubiquitous cloud computing and wireless everything. Students can sit anywhere and compute. We are moving toward open sourceware. Students can get their books online anywhere. Science students now pay $1,000/ semester for textbooks. When you move to electronic textbooks, the costs plummet. We have an online MBA. Most of our core curriculum is available during the summer. We are not going to go to full online degrees. If the market goes to full online, we will resist that. It may be okay for others, but it doesn’t fit our strategy.
A Lutheran community of learning must be steeped in a community of academic excellence. “We want every student to be cross-culturally competent.”
Things are changing, but we remain grounded in the Lutheran traditions of scholarship, leadership and faith.
We’re working to revitalize Valpo. We just received a $15M grant to update the Chapel of the Resurrection. We just purchased old Porter Memorial Hospital, the old Burger King and the old Kroger. We also have an enormous parcel of land on the other side of Sturdy Road. The master plan is in draft. We’re going to grow Valpo. We’re going to grow Valpo’s sustainability so that college is more affordable.