Skip to content

President Robert Manuel

Browse Department

Introduction to UIndy

April 18, 2012 – Ransburg Auditorium
 
 
I am honored to be here today – and feel deeply privileged to have been selected to be a part of this institution – and to serve at this moment in time. I am incredibly excited to join the UIndy community and to make our move to Indianapolis. 
 
The search process introduced my wife and me to the best of this community. It was immediately clear from our first moments on campus that THIS is a special place -- that YOU are special people -- that the experiences you create here are truly unique and have an incredible impact on the life of our students and the development of the Indianapolis community. 
 
I am sorry that my wife and children could not be here today. They are eager to become part of UIndy, are excited about moving. On a daily basis I have to fend off appeals from my kids to get a greyhound as a pet. 
 
I want to thank Deborah Daniels, the chair of the search committee, and Bob Wingerter, the chair of the Board and member of the search committee. They introduced me to the most important parts of Indiana, Indianapolis and UIndy. Their passion for the academic experiences at UIndy is  remarkable – and contagious. 
 
All the members of the search committee mirrored Deborah and Bob’s passion for UIndy – and I am grateful to them all for the time they spent with me during the search.  At each turn, they showed me and my family the possibilities that this community has. 
 
I just want to publicly thank them:
 
Yvonne Shaheen
Sue Ann Gilroy
Bob Palmer
Ersal Ozdemir
Amber Stearns
Adolf Hansen
Mark Weigand
Connie Wilson
 
I admit that I sort of stumbled into a career in higher education administration. It certainly wasn’t the top career possibility that my college counselor advised me to pursue. 
 
Instead, it was in 1990, in what was supposed to be a short-term stay as a recruiter, that I learned about what motivated me, and I found a career. 
 
Since 1990, I have been drawn to the experience of students, and the transformational effects that good education has on their life chances. 
 
I have been drawn to environments that seek to use the student perspective as an animating reason for pedagogical change. 
 
I have been drawn to environments that value teaching, and connect theoretical explorations to professional realities. 
 
I have always been drawn to communities where the goals and mission of the institution outweigh any single member’s ambitions – and so I was immediately drawn to UIndy. 
 
I am impressed by the creativity in your educational programs. Your willingness to work together in support of connecting the disciplines -- re-defining the student-faculty bond -- and being part of the economic development of Indianapolis.
 
I pledge to you that any progress we make over the next years will be connected to the core of our community – to the mission that has animated the work of UIndy for more than a century. 
 
We will honor the place that service has in our collective experience, and continue to produce knowledge and students that advance the work in Indianapolis, the state, our country and the world. 
 
With your help, I hope to intimately understand this community -- your values and your core passions.  That will be my first priority as President. Including them in all of our new initiatives will be my second. 
 
While we will build from our core, we will need to address some pressing issues that face higher education. 
 
As context, I think there have been two major movements during my lifetime in higher education. - The dot-com era (1998-2000), and the current financial crisis (2008 – present). 
 
The dot-com era provided us with a moment to discuss how we teach – a question of ideology.  The financial crisis forced upon us a moment to discuss whether we can teach at all– a question of survival. 
 
I believe that higher education is on the verge of another major moment of reflection. With increased regulation by the accrediting agencies and the government, a growing concern over the value/worth of a degree, issues of access and accessibility, and a shrinking job market, higher education is about to be offered another moment in time to reflect on its work. This time, I think our question will be one of relevance. 
 
The most exciting part of accepting this position, is that I think UIndy is poised to lead the conversation about relevance – AND, I think we can do so on the national stage. 
 
The ways in which education has evolved here offers evidence of the impact that higher education has on students, and can serve as a national model of excellence. 
 
Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Beverley Pitts. During that time I came to appreciate the magnitude and potential of the job and her significant leadership abilities. 
 
I am grateful for her time -- and to be inheriting the legacy that she helped create at UIndy. She has ably led UIndy to this point, and readied it to be central to the conversations that higher education is about to have. It is both a privilege and a daunting task to follow her. Thank you Beverley. 
 
Thank you again for coming out today. I am looking forward to meeting with you all as I transition into the position in late summer – and now – to spending some time with you at the reception. 
 
Thank You.