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Jo Young Switzer
Retired Manchester President Jo Young Switzer writes book

Jo Young Switzer, retired Manchester University president, has written “Notes from the President: A Window into Manchester University 2004-2014.” It is available at the Campus Store and

Awarded in 2014 with the highest distinction in Indiana, a Sagamore of the Wabash, Switzer became the first female president and 14th chief executive of Manchester University on Dec. 1, 2004. 

Before her retirement in late 2014, Switzer led a campaign to raise $100 million for the University. Students First! blew by that goal, raising $108.7 million a full 18 months ahead of schedule. It included more than 50,000 gifts from alumni, friends, corporations, foundations and churches.

The largest was a $35 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to launch the Manchester University Pharmacy Program, which is graduating its first students in May. The gift enabled Manchester to construct a LEED Gold certified, state-of-the-art 82,000-square-foot building on its new Fort Wayne campus, which is home to the four-year pharmacy doctoral program and the nation’s first designated master’s degree program in pharmacogenomics.

The University’s enrollment increased about 30 percent during Switzer’s tenure, from 1,074 in 2004 to 1,400 during the 2013-14 school year. With Switzer at the helm, Manchester also launched a master’s degree program in athletic training and implemented two key initiatives — the three-year bachelor’s degree Fast Forward program and the Triple Guarantee. The Triple Guarantee promises financial aid for all full-time students and full tuition for academically strong low-income students who live in Indiana; graduation within four years for all full-time students who meet the guidelines, or pay no tuition for credit needed at Manchester to graduate in five years; and a job or enrollment in graduate school within six months of graduation, or return for a full year, tuition-free.

Switzer earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Manchester in 1969 and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in communication from the University of Kansas. She returned to Manchester in the 1980s and taught communication studies. She also taught at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) before serving as Manchester’s vice president and dean for academic affairs for 11 years. 

Switzer has been a statewide and national leader in higher education. She is past president of the board of directors of Independent Colleges of Indiana, a past board member of the Council of Independent Colleges, and has served on the Commission on College Completion for the Indiana Commission on Higher Education. She has been a leader in northeast Indiana, including service on the Regional Economic Development Executive Board and Vision 2020, a group dedicated to stimulating entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development in northeast Indiana.

Switzer is also a co-author of Interviewing: Art and Skill (Allyn & Bacon, 1995), two instructors’ manuals, and numerous published articles and book chapters on communication. She has made more than 50 academic presentations related to teaching, applied communication, gender and higher education, and scores of presentations about higher education to more general audiences.

She has received several impressive teaching awards, including the Outstanding New Teacher Award from the Central States Communication Association and the F.A.C.E.T. Award from Indiana University. Her most cherished award is from an organization for students with disabilities at IPFW.

Switzer and her professor husband Dave, who also retired in 2014, have studied Tuscan cooking in Italy, where they like to vacation. The Switzers have three grown children, all graduates of liberal arts colleges.

Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of academic study to 1,500 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics, Master of Athletic Training and a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy.  Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at

 Dec. 18, 2015