UIndy’s first family

He is known as President Robert Manuel on campus, but to Sophia, Alexandra, and Margaux, he is known as Dad.  Students have gotten to know Manuel from speeches he has given and simply talking to him at events around campus, but some students may even have seen him with one or more of his daughters.

Manuel’s three children are able to interact with students from around the world and enjoy watching collegiate sporting events on campus.  Manuel’s oldest daughter Sophia is a freshman in high school and plays soccer and lacrosse.  The University of Indianapolis added lacrosse to its athletic roster this past year, allowing Sophia to watch college lacrosse.  It is not just sports that the kids are interested in, though.  They are able to go to various places and events on campus.

“I take them to a lot of arts events at Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center and sporting events.” Manuel said. “They also love going to the cafeteria and getting whatever they want.”

Manuel’s middle child, Alexandra, is in fifth grade and enjoys ballet. Margaux is nine years old and has an interest in horses, Manuel said.

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President Robert Manuel is married to Wilmara and together they have three daughters, Sophia, Alexandra and Margaux. Sophia is in ninth grade, Alexandra is in fifth grade and Margaux is in third grade. Photo contributed by Robert Manuel

Manuel feels that Sophia, Alexandra and Margaux are part of the UIndy family because of how friendly and welcoming the staff and students are.  He said he remembers how Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sue Willey took care of his daughter while he had to take care of a different daughter who had just broken her nose while playing football.  Manuel said at least 25 of his daughters’ babysitters have been students on campus. He said his daughters really enjoy spending time with college students.

Manuel has hosted events at his home for students, and his daughters are able to interact with college students from all over the world.  Freshman criminal justice major Josh Romano was able to attend the Super Bowl party this year and was surprised at the hospitality Manuel and his family extended to the students while he was there.

“It was really great that he opened up his home to us and was going out of his way to sincerely talk to us and listen to everything we had to say,” Romano said.

Having a lot of college students around your kids might seem intimidating, but for Manuel’s daughters, it just makes the house more fun.

“Thinking of it from my daughters’ perspective, what’s better than 40 college kids coming over to eat and watch football?” Manuel asked. “They look up to these kids, and our students have embraced them.”

President Manuel travels a lot in his job and is sometimes able to take his children with him.  Manuel took one of his daughters to China with him.  He said they were sitting around a table for a meeting but were having communication errors because of the language barrier.  Manuel said his daughter speaks French, which happened to be what another person at the meeting knew, so she was able to translate for Manuel and help facilitate communication.

“She became an interpreter of English to French between us, making it such a fortunate place to be, and they will have these experiences as they form their lives,” Manuel said.

Manuel said there still some time before any of his children go off to college, with his oldest being a freshman in high school and his youngest in third grade, but the decision of where to go to college is ultimately up to them.

“I would love for them to come to UIndy,” Manuel said. “They like it here very much. But at that point, it is their choice where they want to head, and I have no idea what they want to do.  They need to decide their own path. And they know UIndy, and they will see when they start comparing other places to UIndy why this is a pretty special place.”