Valparaiso University alumni Phyllis Buehner ’54 Duesenberg ’04H and Richard Duesenberg ’51, ’53 J.D., ’01H have generously committed to establish the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Endowed Chair in French Language and Culture. The endowment will provide permanent resources to ensure the teaching and learning of French language and culture at Valpo continues in perpetuity.
“The study of foreign languages is at the very heart of Valpo’s liberal arts curriculum and reflects our mission to prepare graduates for the opportunities and challenges of today’s global environment,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president of Valparaiso University. “Phyllis and Dick Duesenberg are among Valpo’s most generous alumni. Simply stated, the University would not be the same without them. Their dedicated support of the humanities reflects their personal interests and belief in the importance of a well-rounded education. The entire Valpo family has benefited from their support — and for that, we are deeply grateful.”
The Duesenbergs have been strong supporters of Valpo for several decades. They were the driving force behind the construction of the Kade-Duesenberg German House and Cultural Center, have previously established four endowed faculty chairs and funded the Duesenberg Welcome Center. They currently serve as honorary co-chairs of Forever Valpo: The Campaign for Our Future.
Phyllis earned a bachelor of arts in French, minored in philosophy and was awarded an honorary doctor of arts. She was a co-founder of the Bach Institute at Valparaiso University and researched and acquired significant works of 19th-century art for the Brauer Museum of Art. Further related activities include serving on the board and as program chair for Alliance-Française de St. Louis
Dick graduated with a bachelor of arts in government and law, a law degree and was awarded an honorary doctor of law. He also earned a master of laws from Yale University. Dick is an emeritus member of the Valparaiso University Board of Directors, serving from 1977 to 2006. Their strong family connection to Valpo includes three sons who attended the University.
“The generosity of Phyllis and Dick Duesenberg has made a profound impact on the College of Arts and Sciences and is a key factor in Valpo being ranked in the top 10 for foreign language learning,” said Jon Kilpinen ’88, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The new endowed chair in French will secure the College’s commitment to educating students in French language and culture. It will also provide permanent resources to recognize faculty and allow them to take their teaching and scholarship to the next level. They will, in turn, affect generations of Valpo students.”
The gift to establish the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Endowed Chair in French Language and Culture also supports Forever Valpo: The Campaign for Our Future. Forever Valpo is a $250 million campaign focused on raising permanent support for student scholarships, faculty development and programs that prepare students for lives of leadership, service and generosity. The Campaign was officially launched on Sept. 23, 2016, and has raised more than $193 million.