Catholic Education Symposium – Daniel J. Elsener


Mr. Daniel J. Elsener
President, Marian University

President Daniel J. Elsener has made the integration of faith, values, ethics, and character development a central priority in all aspects of the University’s education, campus life, operations, and vision.  The ultimate goal that President Elsener has articulated is for Marian to become a great Catholic university.

Since Elsener’s arrival at Marian University ten years ago, he has made terrific strides, including:

  • Surrounding himself with outstanding leaders
    • Elsener has successfully recruited and retained several committed trustees, a dynamic Cabinet, innovative deans and department heads, and other qualified faculty and staff.
  • Doubling the University’s overall enrollment
    • Marian University currently has more than 2,300 full and part-time students.  The average SAT scores of incoming freshmen have climbed by 90 points in recent years, a clear indicator that Marian’s academic stature has elevated to a superior level.
  • Creating and expanding a variety of new undergraduate and graduate programs, both academic and extracurricular
    • College of Osteopathic Medicine
    • Marian University Academy for Teaching and Learning Leadership
    • Marian University/St.Vincent online accelerated nursing partnership
    • Teach for America and The New Teacher Project
    • EcoLab
    • Rebuild My Church
    • Marian Adult Program
    • Advanced Institute for Mathematics and Sciences (AIMS – a Science Technology Engineering and Match (STEM) program)
    • Green Chemistry
    • A-Team (entrepreneurial group within the School of Business)
    • Marian University’s inaugural football program
    • National Championship Cycling Team
  • Averaging $18.6 million per year in fundraising (last five years)
    • Secured the largest (anonymous) gift in Marian University’s history – $30 million to build the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine
    • Secured funds for several major capital projects on campus
      • Center for Health Sciences and Healing Arts
      • Steffen Music Center
      • University Hall
      • Physical Education Center

A Brief Background
Throughout his leadership, Elsener has given a very generous effort, bold vision, commitment to transformational education, stewardship, and deep faith in God’s call to be a transcendental influence in the world. He became the eighth president of Marian University (formerly Marian College) on August 1, 2001.  His academic preparation for his life in educational leadership began with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Nebraska Wesleyan University, a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Nebraska, and other graduate level work from Kansas State University, Washburn University, Wichita State University, Kansas Newman University, St. Meinrad, and various other programs continuing education programs.

Prior to serving at Marian University, Elsener served as a teacher; high school principal; superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Wichita in Kansas; Secretary/Executive Director for Stewardship and Development and Secretary/Executive Director, Office of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis; and most recently as Executive Director of the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation and Project E Indiana.

In addition to serving on the Marian University Board of Trustees, Elsener has been asked to serve as a member – and in some cases as president – of many community boards and executive committees.  Currently, he serves the Indiana State Board of Education, Governor Mitch Daniel’s Education Roundtable, Ascension Health Sponsors Council, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities, The Indiana Academy, Council of Presidents for the Mid-Central College Conference, Independent Colleges of Indiana Board and Executive Committee, and School Choice Indiana.  In all of these roles, Elsener has developed a reputation of being committed to improving education for all children, young adults, and adult learners.  He is committed to raising funds for disadvantaged students, one of the highlights of his service.  In addition, he is committed to programs that advance the academic achievement through better teacher and principal preparedness, and those that advance literacy.

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