Valparaiso University and the City of Valparaiso announced plans on
Wednesday for a joint summit intended to encourage public discussion about
diversity and race relations and how to foster a more inclusive community.
Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas and University President Mark A. Heckler issued
the following joint statement regarding the summit:
“The City of Valparaiso and Valparaiso University stand united against acts
of racism that continue to occur within our community. We live together in a
diverse world and our future success requires that Valparaiso be a community
with a culture of inclusivity that embraces the individuals of many and
varied faiths, nationalities, races, beliefs and backgrounds who come here
to work, live and learn. We must speak out when we see intolerance and hate
in our community. We must understand that our strength as a community lies
in our diversity.
“We call this summit today to focus attention on the continuing dialogue
that our community must engage in regarding diversity and race relations.
The summit will strengthen ongoing initiatives supported by the city and
university to ensure that our citizens and students respect and honor
diversity in all its forms. Each one of us must enter into conversations
with our neighbors who are different from ourselves, and in so doing learn
that despite our differences, we have much more in common. We call on all
members of this community to help make Valparaiso a more welcoming and
inclusive place each and every day, working together for the betterment of
A task force will be appointed by Costas and Heckler within the next week to
plan the summit. The task force will include members of the city’s Human
Relations Council, the university’s Diversity Concerns Committee, and the
Valparaiso Diversity Network Association.
Costas and Heckler noted that schools, churches, businesses, nonprofits and
other community organizations also will be engaged in preparations for the
summit, which will be open to all community members.
Members of the Valparaiso community interested in joining ongoing
conversations about diversity and race relations should contact Lori Good,
the mayor’s executive assistant, at (219) 462-1161, or Dr. Renu Juneja,
associate provost at Valparaiso University, at (219) 464-6880.