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UE Affirms Commitment to Changemaking with Increased Scholarships for High School Changemaker Challenge

The University of Evansville reaffirmed its commitment to a culture of changemaking at a press conference today as UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz announced more than $1 million in scholarships for winners of the annual High School Changemaker Challenge starting in 2019.

Members from the top six winning teams who choose UE as their college destination will each receive 4-year scholarships to attend UE as listed below:

  • 1st place team: Full tuition
  • 2nd place team: $26,000 per year
  • 3rd place team: $22,000 per year
  • Three runner-up teams: $18,000 per year

Students who are eligible for more than one UE scholarship will receive the one of highest value.

In years past, members of the first place team received full tuition while second place received $5,000, third place received $2,500, and fourth place received $1,000 toward UE tuition.

"Changemaking is engrained in the UE culture and we provide the support to take ideas from concept to reality," said Pietruszkiewicz. "Our Ace Care pro-bono physical therapy clinic and our record breaking Habitat for Humanity Barn Blitz are just two ways that Aces are positively impacting our community."

UE's High School Changemaker Challenge is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity. Projects from previous competitions can be seen in the city of Evansville, including the Upgrade Bike Share stations and the solar-powered CommuniTree at Mickey's Kingdom Park downtown. Projects still in the development stages include a musical swing set, an emergency response app, an anti-bullying board game, and many more.

"The increased scholarships will allow more students access to UE's incredible network of support in order to make lasting change in our community and the world," said Shane Davidson, UE's vice president for enrollment and marketing.

Also new this year, teams can be made up of any combination of high school-aged students from any school-public, private, homeschooled, etc. Coaches are no longer required to be faculty members, and teams will be identified based on their project, not their high school. Teams can also come from anywhere in the country or the world as long as they can be physically present for the on-campus competition.

"As an Ashoka U campus, we believe in the 'everyone a changemaker' philosophy and want as many students as possible to have the means to make positive change," said Pietruszkiewicz.

Registration is now open, and more information can be found on the Changemaker Challenge website. Video submissions are due by Monday, September 9. The top 20 finalists will be notified by Friday, September 13 of their advancement to the final on-campus pitch to be held on Wednesday, October 23 on the UE campus.

Contact for more information.

UE Affirms Commitment to Changemaking with Increased Scholarships for High School Changemaker Challenge

UE's Mad Hot Ballroom wins Celebration of Leadership Award

The University of Evansville's Mad Hot Ballroom program won the Sam Featherstone Award for Projects and Programs at the annual Celebration of Leadership Awards hosted recently  by Leadership Evansville. 

Erin Lewis, associate director for the Center for Innovation and Change at UE, is the club's advisor and Joseph Shoup is president.

University of Evansville Announces Details for the Community Changemaker Challenge

The University of Evansville launched its inaugural Community Changemaker Challenge today during a press conference on the UE campus. This competition’s theme is to Make Evansville More Fun and Exciting, and community members of all ages and backgrounds are invited to form a team.

After a series of initial rounds, the top four teams will each receive $1000 in prize money. Teams will then hone their presentations for the final round—a “Shark-Tank”- style competition to be aired on WNIN. During the televised event, each team will have the opportunity to make a pitch to real community investors for funding up to $10,000.

“We are looking for fun, creative, or interesting new ways to increase the fun factor in our city,” said Jill Griffin, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Change at UE. “Ideas could include events, activities, businesses, art installations, or anything else you can imagine.”

UE has hosted the annual High School Changemaker Challenge since 2015, awarding full-tuition scholarships to members of the winning teams and the Collegiate Changemaker Challenge since 2013, awarding prize money and other incentives to UE students. Both of these programs are designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity.

“UE believes strongly that everyone can be a Changemaker,” said UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “To that end, we’re opening the challenge to the entire community this time and inviting people of all ages and walks of life to share their ideas.”

Many Changemaker Challenge projects have already been implemented throughout the Evansville community. The Upgrade Bike Share hubs around the city, solar panels at Carver Community Center, and the CommuniTree at Mickey’s Kingdom all stemmed from these competitions.

“At WNIN, our mission is to deliver engaging public media content that informs, entertains, and inspires,” said Brad Kimmel, president and CEO at WNIN Tri-State Public Media. “A Changemaker Challenge, where everyone in the public has a chance to make their community a little better, directly aligns with this mission, and we’re excited to partner with the University of Evansville.”

In addition to WNIN, other community partners involved in the challenge include the Rotary Club of Evansville, Leadership Evansville, the Evansville African American Museum, and the Growth Alliance of Greater Evansville.

Interested teams are invited to two information sessions in February, and video submissions are due April 8. The top 12 teams will each present at a pitch event on April 30. The top four teams from this event will each receive a prize of $1,000 and will be invited to the WNIN studios on June 7 for the recording of the final televised round where they will pitch their ideas to local community investors for further funding assistance, suggestions, and advice for implementation.

“The Center of Innovation and Change at UE is thrilled to provide another opportunity to get the community working on quality of place initiatives,” said Griffin. “We all have a stake in our community, and we believe that everyone can be a changemaker.”

For more information on the Community Changemaker Challenge, visit


Important information and Community Changemaker Challenge competition dates are as follows:

Tuesday, February 12: Leadership Evansville Kickoff
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Join Leadership Evansville for a VOICE session at the Evansville African American Museum. They will help you come up with ideas or hone an idea if you already have one! Refreshments provided and all are welcome.

Tuesday, February 26: Information Session at the University of Evansville
6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Come to the information session to learn details and discuss strategy for the competition.

Monday, April 8: 60-Second Video Submission Deadline
Email a YouTube link to your team’s 60-second video pitch to by midnight.

Friday, April 12: Top 12 Teams Notified that they’ll be moving forward.

Tuesday, April 30: Top 12 Pitch Event at Innovation Point: Each team will deliver a one-minute pitch and then be available to discuss their ideas further.

Friday, June 7: Final Round and Recording for Televised Show
The top 4 teams will be invited to the WNIN studio to receive their $1,000 prize and to pitch their idea to investors for further funding assistance, suggestions, and advice for implementation.

For more information visit


UE students plan awareness event for Powering Rosa-Bell Project

University of Evansville ChangeLab students are planning an awareness event for their Powering Rosa-Bell project, which will provide solar panel-powered energy for the Rosa-Bell school in Puerto Rico. The event is Tuesday, December 11, at 5:00 p.m. in Room 100 in the Koch Center for Engineering and Science on UE’s campus. It is free and open to the public.

There will be food, prizes, a panel discussion, and trivia games focusing on climate change and the environment, alternative energy, and Puerto Rico. The students will also make presentations about their project, and there will also be an informal discussion of the recent fourth national climate report.

Currently, electricity for the Rosa-Bell school comes from a standard power grid. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, the grid lost power causing the school to be out of session for several months. The goal of the Rosa-Bell Project is to raise the money needed to purchase materials for the installation of solar panels, so the school no longer relies on the power grid. It is estimated that electricity generated by solar panels would save the school approximately $5,000 a month. This money could go to new programs, new classroom supplies, and an overall improvement of the school for the students.

UE Changee Award Winners Announced

The University of Evansville’s inaugural Changee Awards ceremony was Sunday, October 28, in Eykamp Hall in Ridgway University Center on UE’s campus. The formal event, sponsored by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana and Berkshire Hathaway real estate agent Philip R. Hooper, honored those in the UE community who have been outstanding changemaking catalysts.

Erin Lewis, associate director for UE’s Center for Innovation & Change, said that the University was “excited about the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the incredible changemakers among our staff, students, and faculty and community partners. While we hope it becomes an annual event, we are so grateful to be able to do it this year, the year UE became an Ashoka Changemaker Campus.”

Those receiving awards included:

  • CommuniTree - Community Initiative of the Year
  • Holly Carter, UE director of education abroad and Harlaxton programs - Changemaker Staff Member of the Year                                                          
  • Angela Reisetter, UE associate professor of physics - Changemaker Faculty Member of the Year
  • Hannah Jaramillo, UE student – Changemaker Student of the Year
  • E Cubed ChangeLab Team – Changemaker Student Team of the Year
  • Bushara Ahmed, UE student – Center for Innovation & Change Award
  • Ace Care, pro bono physical therapy clinic run by UE doctor of physical therapy students - Changemaker University Initiative of the Year
  • Mike Labitzke, deputy director of program management, Evansville Water and Sewer – Community Changemaker of the Year
  • Honeymoon Coffee Company -  Community Business Partner of the Year                                                            
  • Mark Valenzuela, UE director of institutional effectiveness – Global Changemaker of the Year
  • LaNeeca Williams, UE chief diversity officer – Changemaker Inclusion Award

Students from North High School win Full Tuition at UE's High School Changemaker Challenge

Three students from North High School won full tuition to the University of Evansville today during the fourth annual High School Changemaker Challenge.

Ashlyn Thompson, Jaylyn Davis, and Jamie Born came up with an idea for a musical swing set that would serve as a stress reliever and community builder in downtown Evansville. The team researched what it would take to make their idea become a reality and presented to a panel of judges.

Each member of the winning team will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the University of Evansville. Scholarships will also be awarded to the second, third, and fourth ranked teams per student ($5,000, $2,500, and $1,000 respectively for four years):

Winning teams included:

  • 4th place: Castle High School: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Team
  • 3rd place: Castle High School: Hope Park Team
  • 2nd Place: Bosse High School: Filtering Wetland Park
  • 1st Place: North High School: Musical Swing Set

Championship round judges included Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz and other community leaders.

UE's High School Changemaker Challenge is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity. High school students are invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of community leaders and compete for scholarships to UE where they can come to get the support needed to make their ideas become a reality.

This year, 18 teams from the following high schools competed: North, Evansville Day School, Heritage Hills, Bosse, New Tech Institute, Forest Park, Signature School, Evansville Christian School, Mater Dei, Castle, Central, Boonville, and Charles A. Tindley Academy.

The High School Changemaker Challenge was made possible this year by the Rotary Club of Evansville. Proceeds from the 2017 Rotary Club Santa Run went to support the Changemaker Challenge. 

UE Ranked Number 7 Best College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report

The University of Evansville has been named seventh best college in the Midwest in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges rankings. UE has risen two spots in this year’s overall ranking, and was again named as one of the top 10 value colleges in the Midwest.

The University was also recognized as one of the Most Innovative Schools in the Midwest for the first time. Top college officials from across the country made nominations for this list, selecting institutions known for making the most innovative improvements in curriculum, faculty, campus life, technology, or facilities.

In May 2018, UE was designated as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U for its role as a leader in social innovation and changemaking in higher education. UE is the first Changemaker Campus in Indiana.

The University was listed on several other U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges lists this year. UE’s Schroeder School of Business was named the number three best undergraduate business school in the nation among small private colleges, with its accounting and finance programs coming in at number one and number two respectively.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science was named the number 25 best undergraduate engineering school in the nation among small private colleges with no doctorate.  

The University was also recognized as the number six Best College for Veterans in the Midwest and a Top Midwest School for International Students and remains a Top 10 Best Value college.

Infographic. Details of graphic appear as text in the news article.

“To be recognized nationally on so many levels speaks volumes about the great programs, great people, and great qualities of this University,” said Shane Davidson, vice president for enrollment and marketing at UE. “We are especially proud of making the most innovative list—innovation and changemaking are at the heart of the UE experience.”

The U.S. News & World Report rankings are designed to help prospective students and their families evaluate college choices. The Best Colleges rankings are available online at and will be published in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2019 guidebook, on newsstands later this month.

UE's Mark Valenzuela Breaks World Record for Tallest Tower of Tortillas at UE ChangeFest 2018

UE’s Mark Valenzuela broke the world record for stacking the tallest tower of tortillas on Friday, September 7 during UE Changefest 2018. He not only broke the existing record of 68 centimeters, but went on to set a new record of 75 centimeters before his tower fell. 

This was Mark's second attempt. In last year's attempt, his tower toppled just short of the world record.

"Mark exemplifies the characteristics of changemaking that UE stands for," said Jill Griffin, executive director for the Center for Innovation and Change at UE. "He had the courage to set a bold goal for a good cause and wasn't deterred by his initial failure." 

ChangeFest is held annually to raise awareness for the positive change that Aces are making in the community and the world. This year's themed booths, salsa dancing lessons, record breaking tortilla tower, and more revolved around the theme to bring awareness for UE's upcoming Habitat for Humanity trip to Mexico.

Mark smiling next to the tortillas and a photo of the record breaking stack.

“People have been asking me, 'what does it feel like to hold a world record?'" "said Valenzuela. "It feels great, especially after the failed attempt last year. But really it all just started out as a way to bring attention to a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Guatemala that happened in May 2018. And now we're off to Mexico in May 2019. If we get as good a group of students going in May as we had in Guatemala, then I would really feel a sense of accomplishment!”

Valenzuela is the associate vice president for academic affairs and is also teaching a ChangeLab course this semester in which students are exploring the use of tiny hones as a source of affordable housing. He recently moved into his current role after teaching in the mechanical and civil engineering department for 19 years. 

UE's Mark Valenzuela Breaks World Record for Tallest Tower of Tortillas at UE ChangeFest 2018

UE’s ACE³ Program Named Finalist in National Competition

The University of Evansville’s Access to Capital and Expertise for Emerging Entrepreneurs (ACE³) program has been selected as a Pioneer (finalist) in the Unlocking ₵hange Challenge: Innovations for Financial Wellbeing, Resilience, and Freedom. This nationwide competition seeks to find and support leading social entrepreneurs and innovators across the country.

The ACE³ program was one of 10 finalists chosen out a group of 140 entries. The four Champions (winners) of the challenge will be announced on Oct 3. Each winner will receive $50,000 to support their programs.

Representatives of ACE³ will soon be going to New York to attend the Unlocking ¢hange Challenge event. While there, they will have the opportunity to network, participate in workshops, and discuss the Ace³ program, sponsored by Old National Bank.

The challenge is a collaboration between BNY Mellon, an American worldwide banking and financial services holding company, and Ashoka, the world’s largest group of social entrepreneurs and changemakers.

The University of Evansville was recently named a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, an Ashoka initiative. UE received the recognition due to its leadership in social innovation and changemaking in higher education. It’s one of 50 universities world-wide with this distinction and the first in Indiana.

The ACE³ program is sponsored, funded, and co-managed by Old National Bank and is located in the Schroeder School of Business’s Institute for Banking and Finance under the direction of Yasser Alhenawi, UE associate professor of finance. ACE³ manages a $100,000 portfolio, which offers microloans to women, minority, and disadvantaged owned businesses. Students interface with clients, review business plans, and serve as underwriters for loans.

“ACE³ gives students the opportunity to gain invaluable skills and real-world experience while making a positive impact in the community,” said Greg Rawski, Schroeder Family Dean.

The Schroeder School of Business is the nation’s fastest riser (+38 places) in the 2018 U.S. News & World Report Best Undergraduate Business Programs and is ranked Number 4 among small private business schools nationally.

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Room 260, Schroeder School of Business