President Robert Manuel: Day in the life

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University of Indianapolis President Robert Manuel is a very busy man, busier than many may imagine.  Rob, as he prefers to be called, wakes up every morning at 4:30 a.m. to start the day.

“I get up and check my emails, go through my to-do list and see what all I have planned for the day,” Manuel said.

Manual spends a lot of his time on the job, even coming in on weekends and holidays to do work. Despite his full schedule, he makes it to the gym three to four times a week before he comes in to work. After his workout, he usually has a breakfast meeting downtown with respective groups from the university or outside businesses. Once Manuel finally makes it back to his office in the Sease Wing of the library, he hits the ground running with a packed schedule of meetings.


President Robert Manuel reviews his schedule for the next few weeks as he embarks on “UIndy Starts With You.” He will be traveling to several cities during the campaign. Photo by Shane Collins-Yosha

“Once I make it back here I have meetings from 9-10, 10-11, 11-12 [and] then a lunch,” Manuel said.

Even when taking a lunch, Manuel is still busy. Whether he is eating off campus, in his office or in the cafeteria, he is never alone. As he does with breakfast, he takes the time to have meetings with various people.

“I try not to stop during the day and have lunch with myself. I try to make that part of the meeting schedule so I can get through as much as I can in one day,” he said.

Once he is back from lunch, he is in and out of meetings for the remainder of the day.

Manuel works long hours, generally trying to make it to on-campus events, such as concerts or sporting events, once all of his meetings for the day are over.

“On average, that’s pretty much the same Monday through Friday. Now that we’re in the middle of a campaign, I’m traveling about two days a week meeting with alumni, prospective donors and community leaders about our campaign,” he said.

Manuel will be doing a lot of traveling for the “UIndy Starts With You” campaign to raise $50 million for research into ways to counter the effects of poverty.

“I will be in Washington, D.C., [and] then I will be in Naples, Tampa and West Palm Beach, [FL]. And then the week after that, I will be going out to Arizona for two days and then to Texas,” he said.

The places President Robert Manuel has visited and will visit on the "UIndy Starts with You" campaign. Graphic by Melvin Mendez

The places President Robert Manuel has visited and will visit on the “UIndy Starts with You” campaign. Graphic by Melvin Mendez

Manuel finally makes it home around 8 or 9:30 p.m., depending on how long the evening event he attends lasts, although he feels like he is always at work.

“It’s not really a timed job. Even if I go to the movies with my kids, if  I see someone I know  I’m always the president. If I go to a party with my kids, and I’m there with the parents, it’s kind of a working party. You’re never truly off,”  he said.

When Manuel finally makes it home, he goes back through his emails, which usually takes an hour to an hour and a half. Finally once all of his work is done, he is free to go to bed or kick back and watch some television, which generally consists of  “silly sci-fi shows that divorce me from reality,” Manuel said.

Although he is always busy with meetings and traveling, Manuel loves his job because of all the interesting people he has gotten to meet, including, most notably, Neil Degrasse Tyson and Paul Farmer.

“Those are external people. There [also] are some really interesting students who have gone on to do some wonderful things,” Manuel said. “I love hearing the stories of the students and seeing them develop over time. There are a lot of interesting musicians and athletes, and then we have a ton of wonderful faculty who are just fascinating to listen to. You can’t have a bad conversation with most of the people here.”

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