- Associated Press - Monday, November 3, 2014

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (AP) - When the Manchester University community took a look at this year’s calendar, two events seemed to merge.

One was the 125th anniversary of the institution’s founding, which will be feted Friday at the Fort Wayne Embassy Theatre with an appearance from the comedy folks at The Second City.

The second was the impending inauguration of the university’s 15th president, David McFadden, a man so deeply rooted in town and university that he represents the third out of four generations to have gone there.

So the two milestones will be celebrated on the same day. Even though McFadden, 56, took over the presidency in July, he will don his doctoral cap and gown for a ceremony at Cordier Auditorium at the North Manchester main campus, The Journal Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/10joHvx ).

“I’ve always had new challenges here,” said McFadden, who started his career there in 1993 as the dean of enrollment. “My job has changed regularly over the last 20 years.”

One initiative he was part of is the successful College of Pharmacy, a four-year doctoral program that opened three years ago and now has 200 students with a maximum projected enrollment of about 260, he said.

Located in a new 82,000-square-foot building off DuPont Road known as the Fort Wayne campus and adjacent to the Parkview Regional Medical Center, the building has room to grow with two new programs McFadden envisions.

In the pipeline for mid-May is a one-year post-baccalaureate pre-health program designed for those with bachelor of arts degrees who want to go into scientific professions such as veterinary, dental, medical and pharmaceutical degrees. The initial incoming class would be around 20 students, he said.

Next year, the college hopes to launch a one-year master’s degree in pharmacogenomics, a relatively new field that matches personal genetic markers with drug therapy.

The new programs are focused on jobs the market needs in Indiana. Someone trained in pharmacogenomics, for instance, could work for the Lutheran or Parkview health systems or a pharmaceutical company, McFadden said.

“Dave is a strategic thinker who we know will keep us ahead of the curve,” said D. Randall Brown, Manchester University’s board chairman, a 1987 graduate of the university and an attorney in Fort Wayne.

“One of the things we have charged Dave with is to grow the undergrad enrollment and consider other programs or investments that will be consistent with the university mission and allow us to stay financially strong.”

“Strategic thinker” is one of the monikers McFadden apparently wears best, a name his predecessor, Jo Young Switzer, also used to describe him in October 2013 when the university announced his promotion to president.

Under Switzer, the university underwent a building campaign that included a $17 million Science Center, an $8 million Union, a $9 million Academic Center and $1.5 million classroom and locker room additions.

As president, McFadden hopes to increase the undergraduate enrollment to 1,500 students from the current 1,250. But he also has some big brick-and-mortar plans. The administration building, which dates back to the 1920s and poses infrastructure problems, will be demolished in the next few years to be replaced with a new building.

He also plans to see construction on a new fieldhouse, a new residential hall for the hoped-for increasing undergrad enrollment and maybe another academic space.

North Manchester, surrounded by corn and soybean fields, is a town that McFadden and his wife, Renee, love. Not only have they put down roots, but they have also planted so many hostas, he estimates there are between 300 and 400 varieties.

Three weeks ago, the McFaddens moved from their North Manchester home to the presidential manse, Tall Oaks. One recent Sunday found him outside planting 640 bulbs for spring flowers, something the other home is showered with.

“There are things I learn in gardening that make me a better president,” said McFadden.

Plant something and the first year it sleeps, second year it “creeps,” meaning that it is slowly growing because it’s setting down roots, and then it leaps. The “sleep, creep and leap” often mirrors a student’s growth, he said.

Many come from no more than a three-hour drive away and the first year is spent getting adjusted. The second year the students start to join clubs and other organizations and set down roots. By the third year, the students leap. Often they stay for the fourth year, even though a three-year degree is possible with two summers of online courses.

“Suddenly, they just blossom,” he said.

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, https://www.journalgazette.net

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