Huegli's Inaugural Address
Dr. Albert G. Huegli was elected president of the University on December 14, 1968 and he held the position until his retirement in 1978. During his tenure the University experienced its largest graduating classes -- more than 900 for seven consecutive years -- and its endowment climbed from $1.7 million to over $10 million.
Before becoming president, Dr. Huegli had served for seven years as the University's vice-president for academic affairs. Prior to coming to Valpo in 1961, he taught political science and history at St. John's College, Winfield, Kansas; at Northwestern University; and at Concordia Teachers College, River Forest, Illinois; where he served also as dean of students, academic dean, and director of the graduate division. He was also a consultant and examiner for the North Central Association regional accrediting agency, and chairman of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Board for Higher Education.
He received the Bachelor of Divinity from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1936; the Master of Arts from the University of Michigan in 1937; the Bachelor of Arts in education from Wayne University in 1938, and the Doctor of Philosophy in political science from Northwestern University in 1944. He passed away on October 18th, 1998, at the age of 85.
Dr. Albert G. Huegli
We all know that time is catching up on higher education in America. Growth and change are characteristic of colleges and universities everywhere. They not only feel change; they reflect change, and are themselves major agents in bringing change about.
It is no wonder that schools of higher learning are rethinking their forms and directions. They are in the midst of tensions and conflicting demands upon their energies. For many years their principal focus was inward - they were contemplative, remote, detached from the issues of the world. Now they are called upon to participate vigorously in contemporary society. They have to struggle to keep a balance between scholarship and action. While maintaining the best of their ideals and professional standards, they must seek to fulfill their purposes in a new kind of situation, a new kind of world.
Valparaiso University and others like it which are bearers of the Christian tradition face special problems in our day. They must be universities in fact as well as in name, and face all of the baffling questions which other universities face. In addition, however, they must seek to define precisely what they mean when they call themselves Christian - a task which has engaged the attention of thoughtful men without complete success for several generations, and which does not become any easier in the setting of our present predicament. This kind of university requires a fusion of academic integrity with passionate concern for the questions of ultimate social and moral significance.
An inauguration is a good occasion to ponder the nature and goals of a university. None of us would want to ignore the past or be granted a wholly new beginning. We are proud of what we are because of what our predecessors have done. Yet every lively institution must be future-oriented. This is particularly true of a school of learning, which by its very nature continually prepares its students today for what is an inevitable, if dimly perceived, tomorrow. And so we must strike out in those directions that will lead to worthy goals for an unknown and even unsuspected future.
The present is, of course, that point in time where past and future meet. Here it is that we feel most fully the impact of our heritage. And here it is that a look ahead, though through a glass darkly, imposes its own demands and provides its own opportunities.
The Mission of the University
The history of Valparaiso University reflects a sense of mission and pioneering. It began in 1859 as the Valparaiso Male and Female College, one of a number of schools established by the Methodists in the educationally deprived middle western frontier. Valparaiso College was coeducational from the start - and indeed was one of the first coeducational colleges in the nation. As the first chairman of the Board of Trustees stated, it was to be "an institution where all, upon the same terms, were entitled to all the benefits of the school."
With the arrival of Henry Baker Brown as President in 1873, a different emphasis was placed on the mission of the College. There was a demand for practical education in the post-Civil War period of growing industrialization. Valparaiso College became Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute, offering a variety of educational programs at very low cost. Students were subject to a minimum of regulations, and there were no frills to interfere with education. One early student said: "Work was Mr. Brown's gospel." Still, the higher values were not overlooked. A longtime teacher of that era wrote: "It is our purpose to do our part in forwarding and uplifting humanity. This is life in life's best sense."
Mr. Brown's school reached an enrolment of 5000 students in the early 1900's and adopted the name of Valparaiso University. A student could get almost any course he wanted here, from the classics to telegraphy and steam-boating. But the institution fell upon hard times after the first World War. When the Lutheran University Association bought the school in 1925, it had been reduced to a collection of old structures, a student body of about 300, some debts, and a fire-blackened rubble of an administration building.
Nevertheless the direction of the University was made clear by Dr. 0. C. Kreinheder - who was himself to become its President later -speaking at the inauguration of Dr. W. H. T. Dau as the first Lutheran President. Dr. Kreinheder said: "The highest ideal of a noble life is the Christian ideal, and the Christian ideal is the ideal of service."
Dr. 0. P. Kretzmann, upon his inauguration in 1940, summoned the University to a renewed feeling of mission in these words: "We can build here a school whose greatness is the greatness of freedom under God, the greatness of the free preservation and transmission of Truth, the greatness of an intelligent and dynamic application of a militant faith." In his emphasis on "conscience and competence" during a long and distinguished presidency, Dr. Kretzmann opened the doors of opportunity wide for student development, for academic achievement, for service to the Church and to the nation. In all those remarkable years he never let the University lose sight of the moral and spiritual foundations upon which education must rest.
This is the kind of past principle which now becomes our present imperative. The University has yet to achieve greatness, but the goal of academic quality is within reach. I propose that we extend ourselves to realize that goal.
The basic determinants of excellence in higher education are still the kinds of faculty members and students who are attracted to the campus. Many of our faculty are professionally strong, and some are outstanding. Virtually all are devoted to their work and to this University. We of the faculty must encourage each other to set new levels of professional performance for ourselves, We must dedicate ourselves anew to high standards of educational achievement. We must feel the force of conviction that what we are doing is important and worthwhile to the hundreds of young people whom we are privileged to serve.
I would ask our students to hear the call to educational quality in their work as well. We shall always open our doors to anyone who can walk with us on the road to learning. But we shall expect each person who undertakes the journey to put into it his own best effort. The whole-hearted involvement of all in the educational process is the best assurance we have of an inspiring and exciting academic tone on our campus.
Quality comes in many forms, and a Lutheran university should be unique because of the quality of living which characterizes its campus. What we are grows out of what we believe, the values that we set for ourselves, the style of life that we adopt. I propose that we bend our efforts to determine anew what it means to live a Christian life-style in this post Christian age. Intellectual freedom is of vital concern to a university community. We shall cherish it at Valparaiso. But freedom in its fullest sense is impossible without commitment. All of us bring some kind of values to our disciplines and our activities. In a pluralist society there is a constant need for teachers who are influenced by a value system. And there is now as always a need in our society for men and women who have strong personal convictions and moral concerns.
This University must somehow help its students to see beyond the pettiness of self-centered aims and strive for levels of life which touch the trailing clouds of the glory of God. We must somehow provide them with more than a mirror which reflects their own small interests. We must hold up for them a window through which can come the light of divine grace flowing from a Cross, and by which they can have a vision of their opportunity to serve the needs of men.
The development of a Christian life-style in our day is not a simple process. It is much more than offering a course in religion or a chapel ministry. These are important, of course. But we must find ways through academic dialogue to draw on Christian scholarship and tradition, so that we may resist the fragmentation of learning and respect the wholeness of reality. We shall reassert the priority of the ultimate issues. We shall continually underscore those values which are grounded in the law and the love of God.
To this kind of mission I would invite all who join us in our quest as teachers or as students. It is possible to build here a university devoted to academic quality which will provide its students valuable experiences for the mind and for the spirit. We shall explore that possibility with imagination and determination in the days and years ahead.
How do we make an institutional objective come alive in the rhythms and routines of campus life? How do we make real the hopes and dreams of the fathers and founders of this University, and especially of the faithful Lutheran men and women who have had a vision and have spent themselves at this place in trying to achieve it?
First, I see as our great responsibility the zealous pursuit of knowledge which leads to lasting wisdom. The accent of this University must be on great teaching, whatever else our educational obligations may require in research or in service. Former President A. Whitney Griswold of Yale University has reminded us: "The spark from heaven falls. Who picks it up? The crowd? Never. The individual? Always . . . There is no such thing as general intelligence. There is only individual intelligence communicating itself to other individual intelligences . . ." And that is our job here - to provide for this communication from mind to mind, so that somehow the spark in one will kindle a creative fire in the other.
It takes more than competence in a discipline and a receptive listener to attain that end. There has to be a personal involvement and a warmth in teaching. You may remember that Goethe is supposed to have cried out on his deathbed: "More light! More light!" But the Spanish author Unamuno said: "No, not more light but more warmth. Men die of cold and not of darkness. It is the frost that kills and not the night." That warmth of interest and readiness to participate in the pain and pleasure of intellectual discovery must be shared by those who learn as well as by those who teach. Bad teaching may be checked by rating scales and student evaluation charts. But good teaching blossoms when students truly expect and encourage it.
The journey toward an academic goal can be a satisfying and rewarding one, provided it is more than an accumulation of data and credits. The rapid obsolescence of information is one of the major handicaps we labor under in our day. We ought, therefore, to constantly overhaul our curriculum and loosen up its grip upon the students' time. And in that process we must realize that knowledge by itself is not necessarily accompanied by moral or social meaning. Knowledge is after all only an instrument which can be used for good or ill. Our aim should be to nurture wisdom, which is concerned with how knowledge is to be applied, and understanding in its use.
We seek to do this with a strong insistence on a liberal education, so that the mind is free to probe and penetrate beneath the blankness of the surface and to widen the capacity for educational experience. For a school with Christian insight, however, there is another duty. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," said the Apostle Paul. The mind of Christ can help us realize the meaning and the purpose of our learning.
Still, wisdom comes from individual application of that which has been learned. We ought therefore to open up the opportunities for independent study, and to provide for laboratories of practical experience in almost every field. We need continually to encourage the educational risk, proving all things and holding fast to that which is good. Then wisdom, as the Proverbs say, will indeed be justified of her children.
I see another course of action which the future puts before this University. We need to work for individual growth while we strive to put together a campus community. Ours is a day of bigness, and size can become sometimes more oppressive than impressive. Now that nearly half of the young people of college age in this country are enrolled in college courses, we are all in danger of being satisfied simply to award degrees and stamp each generation with what Irving Howe calls "the great American tattoo." There is enough in our society to turn the young person off, to alienate him, to suggest that he get lost. No college or university should add to his disenchantment.
I suggest that we at Valparaiso ought to be ready to measure our success not by the numbers we enroll but by what we can achieve for every student. The dignity and worth of the individual person should be our special interest in the spirit of the Shepherd who sought the one sheep as well as the ninety and nine. It is not easy for the student to find out who he is and where he is going in the lonely crowd of dormitories and classrooms. It is up to all of us to help him realize his full potential. We shall be interested in his interests and sensitive to the turmoil of his search for meaning in an apparently meaningless world.
The individual, of course, lives in relatedness and interdependence with those around him. This is especially true on a university campus. We shall cherish diversity in our midst, for the stifling of even one small gift of uniqueness will deprive us all of the richness life can give. But we shall also prize every bond that ties our life together, because it contributes to the fabric of our common project. People engaged in academic pursuits as we are - faculty, staff and students - must voluntarily put limits on their freedom so that the benefit of all may be achieved. The company of scholars and teachers on our campus will then become a "community of the concerned," ready to support and help one another, strengthened by the cords of faith and friendship. As we have frequently been reminded, what greater privilege can there be than the search for truth in the company of friends!
Toward this end I recommend that we give our new pattern of internal governance of the University every support. It is an innovation in the great pioneering tradition of this University. There will be a period of trial and error as we begin to make it work. But it has tremendous possibilities for joint activity by faculty and students striving toward common goals and reaching solutions to common problems. Students have long had a voice in important decisions on our campus. They now have the chance to serve alongside of the faculty in almost every aspect of campus life. Our community can have substance through these devices. Our progress can provide us with a shared sense of genuine achievement.
Finally, I see us as a University placing increased emphasis on the stewardship of life and its enrichment by a program of increased service. We have growing resources for advanced investigation in many fields. Individuals among us are engaged in specialized studies and research. These projects ought to be encouraged and more of them undertaken. Curiosity and creativity are priceless assets. Whatever can be done to make the University a contributor to the sum total of human understanding should be provided.
Somehow the services of our academic community ought to reach out further year by year. We have something to give the Church, particularly our own Lutheran branch of it. We can give it men and women prepared to enter its vocations and laymen better qualified for parish life. But more than this, we can on this campus be a larger forum where the Church and the world can meet and exchange ideas of importance to the welfare of mankind. We can provide a new integration of the sacred and the secular. Our people and facilities will be available to help the Church respond to its problems in a technological and swiftly changing age.
We must serve the whole of our Lord's Church in ever-widening circles, reflecting the ecumenical spirit and the urgency of the times in which we live. But the University and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod have an historic affinity reaching back for many years. We want to work together with it and with other groups that share its efforts. We therefore extend a ready hand to help it perform its mission more effectively.
The University is situated in the most rapidly growing region of Indiana. We must play am part in its development. We feel a responsibility for providing our services to this city and to this area. We intend to carry out that obligation. The resources that we have will be available in increasing measure to our neighbors. If they need courses, we shall offer them. If they want to share our cultural and other programs, we shall welcome them. There are many matters of mutual interest that we shall want to undertake together.
But service in its highest sense is still an individual matter. It is the work of volunteers who seek the welfare of those in need. Many of our students are more aware of this, perhaps, than the rest of us. They perform their self-assumed duty in a quiet way when they tutor a backward child, or visit the sick and neglected in hospitals and nursing homes, or carry other burdens of kindliness in their limited budget of time. They serve causes that seem lost and find joy in forgetting themselves in issues larger than themselves. Some of them enter service professions. Large numbers of them catch a spirit on this campus that makes them want to have useful and constructive lives, whatever the work they finally do. I hope that we shall always nourish these unselfish hopes and unspoken dreams. It is in this direction that education in a Christian setting will have achieved its highest goal.
From the vantage point of the present, our task as a University is formidable. We see the achievements of the past and wonder how our predecessors were able to surmount the obstacles so successfully. We look ahead and could easily be overwhelmed by the staggering burdens placed upon us by the future. It is a new age which we are entering - an age of walking on the moon and heart transplants and computerized controls. It is also an age of increased concern for human rights and dignity, for resolving social dilemmas, for educating every person to the highest level of which he is capable. It is in many ways a revolutionary age, with its accent on youth and fresh approaches, with its crumbling of familiar institutions and its awareness of new possibilities and new ways of doing things.
How does a University approach an age that is just beginning? Surely not with misgivings and fear and a closed mind. We approach it with anticipation. We should welcome its possibilities and sense its excitement.
In this spirit I have accepted the Presidency of Valparaiso University. If mankind has indeed, as Neil Armstrong said on the moon, taken a "giant leap" in these days, then this University will be a part of the forward movement. Our destiny will require a great stretching of the muscles of our minds and spirits. We shall have to rely on our Board members, our alumni, our Guild. We shall need the support of the Church in intangible as well as material ways. We shall have to look to our community, to our friends, to our national constituency for strength and encouragement. We on the campus shall need each other - teachers and learners, and everyone who helps them do their vital work together.
This is a new day for the church-related University. For that reason I like the way Phillips translates a familiar passage from the Letter to the Hebrews: "Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of the things we cannot see." None of us can expect to witness all the outcomes of our endeavors in these next turbulent years. But, if we set our mind to it, we can be sure that, with God's help, our earnest efforts will either bear their hoped-for fruits or will be blessed beyond our highest expectations.
Let us therefore have faith in Him who sets us to these tasks. Let us have confidence in each other as we join hands in a common effort. Let us have a high conviction about the things we have set ourselves to do here at Valparaiso University. This is our summons. This is our present imperative.