President Daniel J. Elsener
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 just prior to Marian 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 chair – of many community boards and executive committees. Currently, he serves on the following boards: Chairman of St. Vincent Health (a $3 billion healthcare organization), Indianapolis Power & Light Company, Indiana Chamber, Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee and Executive Committee, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and Executive Committee, The Indiana Academy, Council of Presidents for the Crossroads League, Council of Presidents for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Independent Colleges of Indiana, Center for Leadership Development, Teach For America, and Orchard School (Governors). 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.
When the Indianapolis Business Journal published its "Who's Who in Health Care and Education" in 2011, university president Daniel J. Elsener was the only person to be named to both lists. No sector of the economy has a greater impact on the fate of our personal lives and our business futures than health care and education and their attendant benefits.
President Elsener has been the recipient of two Sagamore of the Wabash awards (the highest honor in the state of Indiana) which are bestowed upon citizens who contribute greatly to the state of Indiana. Both awards were in recognition of Elsener's 10 years of service on the State Board of Education and Indiana Education Roundtable to improve education for the entire state. The first was conferred by Governor Mitch Daniels on October 13, 2011. "Marian University has been a stabilizing force on Indianapolis' west side for more than 70 years. I am very pleased to witness its dramatic growth into a powerhouse for Indiana," said Daniels. The second was conferred by Governor Mike Pence on August 10, 2015. "Dan Elsener is a man of character and integrity, and his career demonstrates his longstanding commitment to and vision for improved education in Indiana," said Governor Pence.
On October 9, 2012 President Elsener received the Man for All Seasons award from the St. Thomas More Society at their annual Red Mass and dinner. The Saint Thomas More Society is an organization of Catholic lawyers, judges, and law students which holds regular events for the legal community to practice our faith and to socialize.
In 2013 Elsener received two awards: Outstanding Alumni from Pius X High School located in Lincoln, Nebraska and Outstanding Fundraising Professional from the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Indiana.
In May 2014 President and Mrs. Elsener were recognized by Roncalli High School with the 2014 John Paul XXIII Spirit of Service Award because they are a catalyst behind the growth and positive change within the education landscape of the Archdiocese and in Indiana. In November Elseners were chosen as the Community Service honorees for the 19th annual Celebrating Catholic School Values: Scholarship and Career Achievement Awards event.
Dan received the Catholic Person of the Year Award from the Southside Catholic Business Professionals during their Inspirational Insights 2015 breakfast held on March 12th at the Colts Complex in downtown Indianapolis, and most recently received the Rev. Edward Frederick Sorin Award for service to Catholic schools from Rev. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame.
On May 14, 2016 at the commencement ceremony Dan's alma mater, Nebraska Wesleyan University, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. At the 33rd Annual Scouting Awards Dinner on June 13, 2017 Elsener received the Thomas W. Moses Good Scout Award.
The Elseners have been united throughout their 41 years of marriage in their efforts to not only champion education as a vital component of advancing the dignity of each person in a well-functioning society, but immerse their own family of 9 children and 24 grandchildren in educational efforts and a family life that is centered on faith, love and service to others.