Manuel is an accomplished, transformative leader in higher education who has dedicated his career to creating life-changing opportunities for students and to elevating the impact of the institutions he has served. Currently the president at the University of Indianapolis (“UIndy”), Manuel joins DePaul at a critical moment of institutional change and optimism for the nation’s largest Catholic university.
“President-elect Manuel’s inspirational leadership combined with his dedication to academic values will solidify DePaul University’s future as a distinguished institution that offers a transformative education to a diverse group of students,” said DePaul Board Chair Gerald A. Beeson.
Beeson added, “He brings a proven record of developing academic innovation, fostering collaboration, and prioritizing the voices of underrepresented constituencies.”
Following an extensive national search, the university’s Board of Trustees unanimously elected Manuel at a meeting on April 21. He will assume his role on August 1.
“I’m inspired by the life-changing opportunities a DePaul education creates for its students, as well as the community it has built for faculty and staff,” Manuel said. “I am excited by the potential partnerships that are possible because of the robust and diverse community in which DePaul lives. The Vincentian charism of DePaul provides grounding for forward-looking opportunities in a time of necessary change in higher education, and I am excited to lead DePaul to a bright tomorrow.”
At the University of Indianapolis, a faith-based institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Manuel has served as president since 2012. His leadership ushered in an era of strong academic, financial and physical growth. He guided the construction of three new residence halls, developed the 150,000-square-foot University Health Pavilion, and redeveloped a local industrial building into the new home of the R.B. Annis School of Engineering. He strengthened the shared governance model at UIndy, which increased the impact of all educational programming, not only within the central Indiana region, but also more broadly throughout the Midwest. As a result, UIndy stands in a position of sustainability and excellence.
“I have always been guided by the principle that a university serves as a vital community partner, anchor and catalyst for the development of local quality of life initiatives and economic infrastructure,” Manuel said. “I have worked diligently to build networks for students with faculty, staff, alumni and industry to maximize their potential in becoming engaged citizens who contribute to their communities. I believe institutions are most impactful when they value the talents of their faculty and tie them to the needs of the community. This approach raises the collective impact for everyone and offers students the opportunity to see how their education serves their local communities.”
As a higher education leader, Manuel has consistently prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Throughout his career, he has been dedicated to expanding access and supporting the success of underrepresented populations and first-generation students.
At UIndy, where first-generation students represent 43% of the first-year class, he engaged the entire university community in the development and implementation of a five-year strategic plan. The outcome resulted in a significant boost in enrollment - particularly among students of color - increases in engagement of alumni and fundraising, investments in faculty and academic support, as well as an increase in graduation and retention rates. Manuel also appointed UIndy’s first diversity, equity and inclusion officer – a position that directly reports to him as president.
“Throughout his distinguished career, President-elect Manuel has shown a deep respect for the power of education and the transformational opportunities it creates for students,” said Judy Greffin, chair of the Presidential Search Committee and vice chair for the Board of Trustees. “President-elect Manuel’s proven ability to capitalize on an institution’s strengths, while innovating for its future, make him the ideal leader to tackle the unique challenges and outstanding opportunities for DePaul University and our students, faculty, and staff in one of the world’s greatest cities.”
Prior to joining UIndy, Manuel served as dean of the School of Continuing Studies and then associate provost at Georgetown University. As dean, in addition to reorganizing the School of Continuing Studies, he helped create a Diversity Council that engaged corporate partners in research projects related to equity and inclusion. He established the Georgetown Global Education Institute, which trained global leaders in the areas of entrepreneurship, urban planning and financial policy. As associate provost, he provided leadership for the Center for Social Justice, Research and Teaching; the Diversity Action Council and a Veterans Affairs initiative.
Manuel, who is 54, also has held leadership roles at New York University’s School of Continuing Studies. Earlier in his career, he served at Le Moyne College and Southern Vermont College.
“On behalf of the faculty, we congratulate Dr. Robert Manuel and welcome him and his family to DePaul University,” said Dr. Sonia Soltero, president of DePaul’s Faculty Council, professor and chair of the Department of Leadership, Language and Curriculum in the College of Education. “The faculty are eager to partner with the president-elect in advancing DePaul’s reputation as a premier institution of higher education in providing students with a world-class educational experience.”
Beyond his professional accomplishments, Manuel has deep respect and admiration for the values that faith-based institutions bring to higher education. Raised in the Episcopal Church, he credits his most formative religious development to his time at Le Moyne College and Georgetown University, both Catholic institutions. For the last six years, he has served as a board member at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory High School. He also has participated in a number of immersive religious experiences, including a service trip with the Jesuits to Kenya.
“The naming of Robert Manuel as our new president opens a renewed spirit of hope and possibilities for DePaul University to grow in its Catholic and Vincentian mission. This transitional moment is a gift for the DePaul community to stand united in our commitment to the values and ideals of our university patron, St. Vincent de Paul,” said Rev. Patrick McDevitt, C.M., provincial superior of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province.
Manuel will succeed Dr. Gabriel Esteban, who has served as president since 2017 and announced his decision to step down last summer. Esteban will continue to serve as DePaul’s president until July 31.
Manuel earned his Ph.D. in higher education administration from New York University. He holds a master’s degree in higher education administration from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Allegheny College. He and his wife, Wilmara, are the parents of three daughters. For more information about DePaul’s 13th president, visit
DePaul University provides exceptional academics and real-world experiences to prepare students for a changing world. With nearly 22,000 students across more than 300 academic programs, DePaul has two campus locations in Chicago. Students richly benefit from the city’s many opportunities. In turn, DePaul is one of the forces that shapes Chicago’s future. The university was founded in 1898 by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), a Roman Catholic religious community dedicated to following the ideals of St. Vincent de Paul. DePaul is among the nation’s top universities for diversity because of its long tradition of providing a high-quality education to students from a broad range of backgrounds. Today, DePaul is the largest private, nonprofit university in the Midwest and the largest Catholic university in the nation. Visit
https://www.depaul.edu to learn more.
Kristin Claes Mathewskristin.email@example.com