Following the departure of former University of Indianapolis President Robert Manuel this summer, Phil Terry has taken over the mantle as the Interim President. Terry previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees, beginning in 2012, and acted as the Chair this past year. He has also been involved with the university as the ProEdge Center’s Executive in Residence.
Terry began his new position at the beginning of July, and although he said that although the Board of Trustees was sorry to see Manuel leave to become the new President of DePaul University, Terry views it as a great opportunity to continue the growth UIndy has seen throughout the past decade.
“It’s a great opportunity for him [Manuel]. But we on the board believed, and I believe, that we need to continue that good work, continue the good stewardship Robert had over the university, and help it continue to grow and prosper,” Terry said.
While Terry’s presidency is just beginning, he described the job as being the mayor of a small city because he has to manage everything on campus, beyond just the education of the students at UIndy. As he settles into the job, Terry said one thing he is still trying to learn is shared governance, which is an important part of higher education.
“Faculty have a very important and significant role in the management of the university, and so do the admin. And shared governance is the process by which we work together to create the best environment for the students, the learners who come here,” Terry said. “I’m still getting the hang of that because I come from kind of the corporate back world, and it’s very hierarchical. You work together, but there’s a definite hierarchy of who is responsible, ultimately, for everything.”
Manuel’s presidency at DePaul began at the start of August and he said so far he is inspired by the people and the aspirations they have, as well as the possibilities ahead of him. Manuel said when he became president of UIndy, he found a community and environment that cared about students and making the university’s mission present to students, and he feels grateful to have been a part of it.
“We did amazing things in the classroom and out of the classroom to live up to our potential, and actually probably beyond. And I was so fortunate to have been a part of that community for 10 years,” Manuel said. “I realized through this process that everything I’m able to do at DePaul, or that I’ve been given the chance to do at DePaul, was because UIndy gave me the opportunity to do it first. And I’ll be forever grateful to the UIndy community for that.”
Based on Manuel’s experience with Terry during his time on the Board of Trustees, Manuel said UIndy is in capable hands. While most of Terry’s experience has been in the business and legal world, Manuel thinks he has been a student of higher education for his full 10 years on the board.
“He’s inquisitive, he’s always asking for information to read, he’s showing up at events, he’s understanding of the ethos of UIndy and he connects with its mission,” Manuel said. “[His] granddaughters and his wife have all gone through UIndy, so he knows the value that it has and the impact that it has. He cares about people’s lives and their quality of life. And for an interim person, to have all of that in one place is remarkable.”
In regards to the active search for a permanent university president, Terry said one goal is to make sure everybody in the community is involved, not just the official search committee. There will be opportunities set up for the community to engage with the higher education search firm the university has hired, Isaacson, Miller, and give their opinions on what the university needs in a future leader.
An email from the Presidential Search Committee on Aug. 17 stated that students are invited to provide feedback at public forums with Isaacson, Miller as the search continues. The first two forums will be held on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
“We’ve got faculty involved. We’ve got a student on the search committee. We have a dean on the search committee, we have a member of the administration on the search committee, not including me,” Terry said. “We’ve tried to make sure we’ve got a voice of every stakeholder in the community at the table for that search.”
As the fall semester approaches, Terry said he is most excited to see campus come to life. His biggest goal is to continue the momentum that was created during Manuel’s presidency.
“I don’t want this year to be a hiatus,” Terry said. “I don’t want this year to be running in place. We want to keep sure that we’re advancing and progressing.”