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Saturday, August 26, 2017 1:00 am

Indiana Tech leader just a phone call away

New president gives cell number to students

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

By the numbers

The following statistics relate to Indiana Tech's incoming traditional class of students:

• 92 percent are U.S. residents (52 percent from Indiana, 23 percent from Ohio and Michigan). The international students represent 16 countries.

• 39 percent are female, 61 percent are male 

• 49 percent are white, 24 percent are black

• The top majors for freshmen are business administration-management, criminal justice, business administration-sports management, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and exercise science.

• 58 percent are residential, 42 percent are commuters

• 57 percent are athletes

Source: Indiana Tech

Indiana Tech's new president wants students to contact the appropriate people when in need of help, whether that's a resident assistant or a professor, but students can also call him if they don't feel they are being heard.

That's not an empty promise. Karl Einolf gives students his cellphone number, he said, and in one case, he shared his number with a large group.

“I got eight texts immediately,” he said, adding he suspected the students were checking its veracity.

Einolf, 50, officially became Indiana Tech's ninth president on July 1, succeeding Arthur Snyder, who retired June 30 after leading the school since 2003.

Nearly 70 people applied for the position, and it was soon clear to both Einolf and the search committee that he would be a good fit.

Janet Chrzan, chair of the Indiana Tech Board of Trustees, recalled the search committee's reaction to Einolf's initial interview.

“Well, let's just stop here because he made such an impression,” she said.

Einolf said he felt “absolutely energized” after that interview and liked how everyone he met was passionate about helping students learn and transform their lives.

Fortunately, he and his wife, Maria, a retired seventh-grade biology teacher, were also willing to make the city their home.

“Fort Wayne really made a strong impression on her,” he said during an on-campus interview Thursday, quickly adding, “on us.”

Einolf came to Fort Wayne from Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland, which he joined in 1998 as a full-time faculty member. He later became dean of its business school and served as acting president from February to June 2016.

Mementos from Mount St. Mary's decorate his walls. Photographs from a three-month study abroad trip with 26 students in Florence, Italy, are mounted on one wall while his prized teaching award is displayed on another.

Pictures of his sons, a college sophomore and a high school senior, are also nearby.

Einolf's experience in higher education is an asset, as is his background in the workforce, Chrzan said. He spent five years working for the Sprint Corporation in various finance, marketing, and human resource functions.

Other notable qualities include his humbleness, intelligence and leadership skills, she said.

“He works as a team leader but also knows when it's his time to make a decision,” she said, describing him as “strategy minded.”

Indiana Tech is beginning a comprehensive strategic plan process that will look toward 2030 – the university's centennial. It will incorporate input from employees, students, alumni, board members, donors and benefactors, and will cover academics, facilities and athletics, among other areas, Einolf said.

A campus master plan also will be developed, he said, and the future of the former law school building, which is being used for overflow, should be addressed. Indiana Tech announced its closure last year, citing low enrollment and $20 million in losses. It opened in 2013.

Financially, Einolf said, the university as a whole is “doing fine” in a climate where other private universities are struggling. Indiana Tech needs students to survive, he said.

Indiana Tech plans to release 2017-18 enrollment figures soon. Last year, its Fort Wayne campus enrollment of 1,565 surpassed its long-term goal of having 1,500 on its main campus. The school also has regional campuses throughout Indiana and Kentucky and has a presence in Detroit and the Chicago area.

The fall semester began Monday. Einolf said it's great to have students' energy on campus. He has met the RAs, the student-athletes and other students through orientation events, he said.

“Their success is our success,” he said.

Chrzan said Einolf is the type of person who wants to get involved in the community and will explore how the university can further contribute to the region.

His predecessor left Indiana Tech in “great shape,” she said, and it's up to Einolf to take it to another level. She isn't concerned about a successful transition.

“It's already well on its way,” she said.

Einolf can see himself retiring from Indiana Tech, he said, saying he isn't a job hopper. 

“This is home for me now,” he said.

He hopes to become a recognizable face on campus, he said. So far, at least one student has reached out to him via cellphone about a minor issue, he said: a request for the information technology help desk's number.

asloboda@jg.net