Rev. Richard P. Baepler, Ph.D., ’11H, former vice president for academic affairs, founding dean of Christ College — The Honors College, and professor emeritus of theology and law, passed away Nov. 19, 2020.
A lifelong scholar, Professor Emeritus Baepler received his bachelor’s degree from St. Paul’s College in Concordia, Missouri, master’s degree from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and doctorate in theology from the University of Chicago. Professor Baepler began his professional career as an ordained minister of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. He was called as an assistant minister to Faith Lutheran Church in Valparaiso and attended services there throughout his life. He studied at Theologische Hoschschule in Hamburg, Germany, and the University of Erlangen-Nuremburg in Bavaria, Germany. He married his wife, Simone, in 1954 in her native Paris, France.
He joined the Valpo faculty in 1954 as a professor of theology, eventually serving as chair of the department. In 1966, President O.P. Kretzmann appointed him founding dean of Christ College — The Honors College. He provided guidance and leadership for the new college as it found its footing in the Valpo community and helped grow the program into the beginnings of what it is today. In 1979, he became vice president for academic affairs.
After his retirement in 1999, Professor Baepler authored several articles and three books, “Flame of Faith, Lamp of Learning: A History of Valparaiso University,” “Witness to his Generation: Selected Writings of John Strietelmeier,” and “Keeper of the Dream: O.P. Kretzmann.”
He was granted honorary alumni membership in 2011 for exemplary ideals of achievement and service in his association with the University. He was recognized as a foundation member of Eta of Indiana Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for his display of commitment to the study of liberal arts and sciences through scholarship and achievements as a distinguished scholar and author. During his tenure, he served as an early advocate of the value of establishing affiliations with organizations such as Phi Beta Kappa.