The Student Alumni Association consists of students from across the entire University community. From seniors to first-year students, Student Alumni Association members are united in their love for Valpo and their commitment to making their alma mater a place rich in pride, spirit, and tradition long before graduation day. Being alumni means having a lifelong tie to Valpo and each other, and the Student Alumni Association strives to build these ties for all students.
SAA Leadership

Erin Staal

Tiffany Leuhrs
1st Vice President

Mitchell Whittman
2nd Vice President

Brian Foerstel
Beginning in the fall semester of 2000, a group of interested and active students, along with various campus representatives, discussed the possibility of a student alumni group on Valpo’s campus. This group spent much of the semester researching student alumni groups at other colleges and learning from other campus organizations about how to start one. The Student Alumni Association, formerly known as the Valparaiso Alumni Undergraduate Leadership Team (VAULT), was officially founded on November 7, 2000. During the spring semester of 2001, recruitment and smaller events began to spread the word about VAULT. By the fall semester of 2001, VAULT was a committed and eager group of students ready to promote a sense of pride and tradition on Valpo’s campus.

Like their counterparts in the Valparaiso University Alumni Association, the Student Alumni Association welcomes first-year students to Valpo, celebrates graduation with seniors, and hosts campus events. You’re sure to see their friendly faces at Homecoming Weekend, as well! For more information about SAA events, click the Events tab above.
Each spring semester during Senior Week, the SAA sponsors the Graduation Grill, a barbecue held to honor and celebrate seniors and the accomplishment of graduation as well as to welcome them to the Valparaiso University Alumni Association. Keeping alumni engaged with their alma mater is not only a goal of the VUAA, but of the SAA as well. The Graduation Grill helps inform graduating seniors about staying connected to their alma mater.
Every August on the Sunday of move-in weekend, the SAA holds the Welcome Barbecue for incoming and returning students. The Welcome Barbecue continues to be one of the Student Alumni Association’s most successful annual events. It is a great way for incoming first-year students to meet and greet other students, faculty, and staff.
Founders Day is the celebration and recognition of the founding of Valparaiso University. It is held on the fourth Friday in September, representing the midway point between the beginning of classes in Valpo’s founding year (September 21, 1859) and the first day of classes in the year that Valpo became a Lutheran institution (September 28, 1925). First celebrated in 2001, Founders Day establishes recognition and a sense of pride on campus about the history of Valpo.

During Chapel Break, SAA members across campus hand out free birthday cake, and throughout the week of Founders Day, students can stop by the union to admire historical displays and browse through old yearbooks.
Throughout Homecoming Weekend, the SAA helps to welcome alumni and guests to campus while supporting members of the VUAA. SAA members can be found hosting an ice cream social, driving carts for alumni, and helping visitors navigate the full slate of activities and events available.

Homecoming activities help to preserve the history and traditions of Valparaiso University, educating students about Valpo’s history while showing alumni Valpo’s progress and plans for the future.

The Victory Bell came to campus during the 1956–1957 academic year as a gift from Oliver Graebner, a professor of education and psychology, and his wife. The old tradition was that the bell would be rung after any Valpo athletics victory.

In April 2002, out of respect for tradition, the Student Alumni Association uncovered the victory bell from an overgrowth of trees and shrubs. The cleanup became a tradition until the spring of 2005, when campus facilities management began to oversee the maintenance of the bell. In 2009, the bell moved from the Union to its new site outside the ARC on University Park Avenue.

Years ago, the Student Bridge stood on Old Campus, spanning the ravine where the railroad tracks run behind Wesemann Hall, which today houses the law school. An old tradition held that if a couple kissed on this bridge for the entire length of time it took for a train to pass, the sweethearts would marry. This fondly remembered tradition earned the landmark the nickname of “the kissing bridge.”

In the 1960s, the bridge was condemned by the city, but a segment of it was purchased and moved off campus to private property. In 2004, Valpo’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the 2004 Senior Class Gift, and SAA brought a portion of the bridge back to campus and placed it in a grove of trees south of the Chapel of the Resurrection.
Valparaiso University developed its modern fight song in 1956 under athletics director Karl Henrichs. Through the years, the song has been the championing cry of students, faculty, and Valparaiso community members alike — anywhere that proud Crusaders are gathered.

It had been a longtime goal of the SAA to have the fight song displayed permanently in the Athletics-Recreation Center, and on February 28, 2008, the Fight Song Banner was unveiled and dedicated during halftime of the men’s basketball game. The Student Alumni Association would like to thank Adam Klos, Merel Nelson, Mark LaBarbera, Fred Plant, and the many others who helped make this banner a reality.

The Valpo Fight Song was originally introduced in 1956 after the student council and athletic director Karl Henrichs wanted to fire up the spirit at sporting events. Today, the current version of the fight song can be heard at many sporting events across the campus.

Hail Crusaders! Who rise to glory,
Our challenge has been hurled.
Team Victorious, our colors glorious
Are known throughout the world,
Valparaiso, we’re here to back you,
Our cheers like thunder roar.
See our school, our team,
See our colors gleam.
Let’s fight for the Brown and Gold!

The Valparaiso University Alma Mater has a long and interesting history. The song was originally introduced in 1935 after being written by Valpo President Oscar C. Kreinheder and two former music professors, Helen Dvorak and Harold Rogers. It is sung to the tune of an old German song composed by J.F. Petri, titled “How Can I Leave Thee?”

Hail to the Brown and Gold!
Thy sons and daughters hold
In loving loyalty
Thy colors dear;
Colors whereby they show
What others, too, should know;
That they belong to you.
Dear old Valpo.

Hail to the Brown and Gold!
Recall the days of old,
The happy days which we
Ne’er shall forget.
As shadows longer grow,
Brighter the flame shall glow,
The flame of love for you –
Dear old Valpo.

Hail to the Brown and Gold!
We pledge thee to uphold –
Wherever we may be –
Thy honored name.
Through years that come and go,
To pay the debt we owe,
We’ll e’er be true to you,
Dear old Valpo.

Valparaiso University was originally founded by Methodists in 1859.
It was purchased in 1925 by the Lutheran University Association, which operates the school to this day.

The Crusader has not always been Valpo’s mascot.

The original mascot was the Uhlan (oo-lan), a violent German knight. During World War II, this mascot fell out of favor, and the Crusader was adopted instead.

The Chapel of the Resurrection is the largest collegiate chapel in the country.
Dedicated in 1959 (click here to read the original dedication booklet), the chapel celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009. The Chapel was constructed on the highest point of campus ground, with architects Charles Stade and Associates of Park Ridge, Illinois, guiding the $7.5 million construction.

The chapel organ is one of the largest in the country.
It has more than 60,000 pipes in 103 rows.

From 1917 until the 1960s, first-year students were required to wear colored beanies.
Originally, first-year students wore these beanies to identify one another, but upperclass students could identify them as well, leading to the hazing practice known as “buttoning,” in which students were required to place both index fingers on the button of their beanie and perform deep-knee bends. In 1962, brown and gold pots replaced the traditional green beanies, signifying the first-year students as equal members of the community.

Valpo once had a “campus dog” named George.

George belonged to a Valpo professor and was very well known around campus. When George died, he was buried on Old Campus, where a gravestone still marks his final resting place.

Valpo once boasted the “world’s tallest basketball team.”

A group of men who were too tall to join the military during World War II came to play basketball at Valpo.