The search is ongoing for a new president of the University of Indianapolis. The board of trustees recently appointed Phillip Terry as interim president until a new leader is selected to replace Dr. Robert Manuel. WFYI’s Taylor Bennett spoke with Terry about his upcoming leadership role, which is set to begin in July.
WFYI's Taylor Bennett: How did you get involved, in line, for that position?
Incoming University of Indianapolis Interim President, Phillip Terry: Well, I've been on the board of directors of UIndy for 10 years. In fact — it seems like maybe it wasn't — but literally, the first meeting I attended, I met Rob manual. So he and I kind of, our tenures overlap at UIndy. I was asked to join the board by Rob's predecessor, Beverley Pitts. I'd known Beverly because of community connections and service on similar boards, and Beverly thought I'd be a good fit on the board of directors. And I agreed and have been there for 10 years and enjoyed every bit of it.
Bennett: You've got quite the background. Give us a little bit about some of the things that you've been doing in the past.
Terry: Well, for 30 years, I was the CEO of Monarch Beverage company here in Indianapolis, which was a beer distributor. We sold that company in December of 2020, to a large multi-state distributor. And at that point, I devoted my time to winding down the operation and spending time at UIndy. But before that, I practiced law for 15 years here in Indianapolis, at a firm that is now merged, but it was McHale, Cook & Welch, and I practiced law there for 15 years.
Bennett: When you assume your role in July, what are some of the things that you are going to be looking at maybe tackling as soon as you get there?
Terry: Yeah, I think my primary goal is to maintain the momentum. Rob and all the good people at UIndy have just done some great things down there, creating new schools like the R.B. Annis School of Engineering, the construction of the health pavilion, and the growth of the Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences. And we don't want to stop the momentum. We've got this hiatus here, where we're going to need to look for Rob's successor. But I see my job primarily as maintaining the momentum, making sure that we're still being innovative, that we're still looking to satisfy the needs of the prospective college students and provide them with an education that's a service to the community.
Bennett: You have been a board member for a long time, but how do you think that transition is going go, going into more of an academic role?
Terry: I think it's going to be fine. You know, Taylor, one of the things I so much appreciate about Rob is if you're a board member -- especially if you become an officer -- that he views your job as not just the oversight and governance, but also learning about higher education. And so, you know, it seemed like I was back in school with Rob. He would frequently give me books to read. And it seemed like I, then had to do a book report to Rob about what I learned about higher ed.
So I think the transition's going to be fine. Especially because of the support that I know I'm going to have from the professionals at UIndy. We've got a great cabinet, got a great faculty, and everyone's focused on providing quality education. And so I don't think we're going have a problem maintaining that momentum.
Bennett: What did Rob say to you? What was the one piece of advice as you get ready to assume that leadership role there?
Terry: He said, don't assume that your job is just to keep things together. We've got to keep this university growing. And so that's your job. Don't post.
Bennett: And any plans? Maybe? I mean, you're obviously not officially in that role yet, but maybe to accept it full time.
Bennett: That was pretty quick. Other things that you'd like to be doing though, following this, but yeah, I'm sure the university appreciates you stepping into that role.
Terry: Yes, right. I'm sure we're going to find a quality candidate to be Rob's successor to carry on.
Bennett: Well, good luck with everything.
Terry: Thank you.