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Valder Gives $750,000 To Bolster Social Justice Initiatives

Robert Waterbury

A gift of $750,000 from Janet Valder will be used to bolster the existing endowed fund earlier established by Janet and her late husband, Michael (’62) in support of social justice initiatives at Loras College. The gift, made in honor of Valder’s late husband, will raise the total corpus of the fund to $1 million to provide greater and more sustained support to the initiatives the fund supports.

“Our investment will provide students access to more classes and experiences to learn about these subject areas and faculty will have additional opportunities to present creative curricula to teach about them,” Valder said. “We hope our investment will include presenting real-life encounters and discussions about prejudice, teaching justice in everyday life and the world, seeking wisdom from diversity, hearing different voices of visiting faculty and national speakers, demonstrating change in our lives and studying Catholic Social Teachings. We hope our investment will help make each graduate declare that Loras College made all the difference.”

As part of the agreement, the fund will be renamed the Loras Peace, Justice and Diversity Endowed Fund. Previously known as The Valder Social Justice Scholarship, the fund invests in the personal growth of Loras community members related to a number of areas, including interfaith understanding, social justice, environmental justice and sustainability, immigration, inclusion and racial diversity (inter alia).

“We are living in unprecedented times facing climate change, uncertainty of more infectious diseases like COVID, mass immigration, increased species extinction, terrorism, poverty, wars, political polarization and fear for our future. We cannot ignore what we are experiencing and must act now to help our nation and world recover. It calls for our institutions, especially our institutions of higher learning, to invest in areas of peace, justice and diversity, those strong elements of our faith to show us the way,” she said

The fund was created by Mike and Janet in 1987 in honor of Mike’s brother, Robert Valder (’60), a civil rights organizer in the South. While it started as an award in name and a financial contribution to student experiences centered on social justice, the endowed fund now supports summer internship experiences for rising seniors at social justice organizations in addition to faculty and staff projects that align with the mission and vision of the fund.

“Loras’ gratitude to Janet as well as to Mike cannot be overstated,” said Jim Collins, President of Loras College. “Their decades-long commitment has produced countless transformative experiences for Loras students and with this gift, Janet has ensured these opportunities will continue to flourish here. Loras students and the people and organizations they serve will for generations benefit from Janet’s incredible generosity.”

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