The Louis S. and Mary L. Morgal Chair of Christian Business Ethics Elizabeth Gingerich’s family history beams brown and gold as it traces back to the early 20th century, making Gingerich a fourth generation at Valpo.
“The first president of the University when it became a Lutheran institution in the 1920s was W.H. Dau, and he’s my great grandfather,” Gingerich said. “He’s my mother’s grandfather.”
Gingerich’s great-grandfather was unaware at the time he would soon start a Valpo legacy.
After her great grandfather became an established figure at Valpo, Gingerich’s grandmother, Emma Dau, and her grandfather, Martin Bertram, had their turn to become integrated into the Valpo community. Gingerich also noted that Bertram translated most of Martin Luther’s works from German to English.
Gingerich’s uncle, Bob Bertram, was also associated with Valpo as he helped build a famous campus landmark.
“My uncle was the force behind the construction of the Chapel,” Gingerich said. “At that time he was also the chair of the combined departments of philosophy and theology.”
Gingerich’s father was then recruited in the late 1940s as a football coach.
“He’s a Hall of Famer,” Gingerich said. “He’s the only one to take our football team to a bowl game. He met my mother, who was a student, and the rest was history.”
Years later Gingerich’s mother would teach English at Valpo.
While she was growing up, Gingerich and her family lived in Valpo and continued to hold close ties to the University. Gingerich was the third born in her family with three other siblings. All of her siblings are also Valpo graduates.
Gingerich’s parents were not only heavily involved with the University, but with the city of Valpo as well.
“There’s a charity [in Valpo] called Project Neighbors,” Gingerich said. “My parents started that and that was the successor to an original organization that started renovating old houses for families.”
Other projects Gingerich’s parents started were the Hilltop Neighborhood House and a women’s shelter close to the University.
Gingerich said her parents received a grant for Hilltop and were able to renovate the building that formerly belonged to Valpo’s psychology department, otherwise known as Moody Labs. Three quarters were renovated into a daycare, and the fourth quarter into a health care center.
The health care center had immediate success according to Gingerich. It grew its business to a total of five counties and is now called Health Link.
After graduating from Valparaiso High School, Gingerich followed in her family’s footsteps and enrolled at Valpo. However, she then transferred to Indiana University Bloomington to finish the last two years of her college career.
“I was married and that was my first husband,” Gingerich said. “He had just been accepted to medical school and so he had to do his first two years in Bloomington and his last two years in Indianapolis. So his first two years of med school were my last two years of undergrad.”
Gingerich was excited for a change in her academic environment. She was quite familiar with Valpo and was interested in learning her way around new territory.
“The diversity in students [at IU] was tremendous,” Gingerich said.
Gingerich added that her professors at IU wrote many of the textbooks she used while at Valpo.
While the change in schools allowed Gingerich to narrow in more on what she wanted to study, she missed the intimacy that came with Valpo’s smaller campus.
In the years after graduating with a degree in Latin American History, Gingerich attended the McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. She then had her first four years of practice in rural Virginia but eventually returned home to Valpo, where she is today.
During her time as a professor, Gingerich taught a variety of students, one of which being her own daughter, a fifth generation Valpo student.
“I thought it was going to be harder or more uncomfortable,” Gingerich said about teaching her daughter. “But once I started teaching I’m oblivious. It’s all about content. It’s about relating their content and answering questions. So it was like a blur. That whole class is a blur. You just make sure the hands go up. You answer, you integrate, you encourage participation analysis. So [it ended up being] fine.”
Gingerich said her daughter is proud of her mother’s work as a professor.
When she’s not teaching, Gingerich is working as the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) for the Journal of Values Based Leadership (JVBL). She’s been working as the EIC since it started in 2007 which has resulted in many life changing adventures.
“It’s been an astounding amount of growth,” Gingerich said.
Gingerich said that she has interviewed a variety of people for the JVBL. Some of which include the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, the Minister of the Environment in British Columbia, the First Minister of Scotland and the Prime Minister’s Office in Iceland.
Gingerich said it’s been a big step up from when she started, as she was using every resource possible to find writers and interviewees when the publication began.
“It’s mainly on the issues of climate change and their own government policies of dealing with that,” Gingerich said. “It’s been absolutely breathtaking what I’ve seen and what I’ve taken in.”
The journal has reached success worldwide with downloads from several different continents. The next issue is expected to come out in late June or early July according to Gingerich. It will serve as the summer and fall edition for this year.