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VU prez, provost compete again in annual fundraiser

Valparaiso University Provost Mark Schwehn left tries blow bubble with bubble gum after finding it whip cream while President Mark

Valparaiso University Provost Mark Schwehn, left, tries to blow a bubble with bubble gum after finding it in whip cream while President Mark Heckler, right, closes his eyes in concentration. | Sun-Times Media

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VALPARAISO — For the sixth, and perhaps final, year in a row, Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler and Provost Mark Schwehn did the ridiculous on Friday.

They bounced pingpong balls out of tissue boxes strapped to their waists. They got a crash course in the Wii “Just Dance” video game, jumping and dancing along with animated versions of One Direction to “What Makes You Beautiful.” They donned garbage bags and, face first, found pieces of bubble gum using nothing but their mouths.

The university community gathered around to watch the merriment in the Harre Union, cheering the duo on through each silly segment.

The fun was part of a fundraiser for the Student Action Leadership Team’s annual World Relief Campaign project. This year’s goal is to raise $20,000 to build a studio for six artists in Kiberia, Kenya. Because students raised $2,000 this week, bringing the total so far to $10,255, the provost and the president squared off.

Other challenges have included hula hoops, water balloons, sumo wrestling, piñata whacking and a dunk tank.

Kyle Duff, a sophomore from Itasca, Ill., organized what has come to be known as “Heckler vs. Schwehn” and helped come up with this year’s challenge.

“The group just sat around brainstorming. We didn’t want to be outside because we’ve had some really cold years,” he said. “And it would be funny to watch.”

At the start of Friday’s competition, Schwehn admitted that he had never seen “Just Dance” before.

“I do it an hour every day,” Heckler deadpanned, before giving in. “I think the truth will be quickly evident.”

Students judged that Schwehn won the dance competition, though Heckler reigned supreme at jerking about to pop 12 pingpong balls out of the tissue box.

Then it was on to the whipped cream and the bubble gum, which the students mercifully unwrapped — not that it mattered because both men struggled to blow a bubble, which was the winning move.

Heckler closed his eyes in concentration while the crowd chanted, “Chew! Chew!” In the end, Schwehn was again the victor.

“That was tricky bubble gum,” he said before receiving a trophy for his efforts.

Schwehn is retiring at the end of June, The new provost, Mark Biermann, starts June 1. Whether he will step into Schwehn’s sumo suit or grab his Wii paddle next year isn’t clear.

Schwehn was dodgy about continuing the tradition after he retires.

“I don’t know,” he said, adding that he would come to the challenge “just to watch, probably.”



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