Abagail L. Van Vlerah


Abagail L. Van Vlerah
Vice President for Student Life

Abby Van Vlerah has been named vice president for student life at Manchester University.

The first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, Van Vlerah knows firsthand what challenges today’s students face, and she has implemented successful student experience and retention programs at universities in New York State.

“I am deeply committed to helping students like me find success through education,” she said.  This can take the form of extra guidance to help them navigate the university and its processes from enrollment through employment, she added.

“We are excited and eager to have Abby join us,” said President Dave McFadden. “She has experience at (relatively) small schools, including graduating from and working at Saint Mary’s (in Notre Dame, Ind.), and will be a great fit for our small, caring community.” At MU, Van Vlerah will serve on the Cabinet and report to the president.

Originally from Angola, Ind., Van Vlerah most recently worked at Long Island University as dean and chief operating officer at its Suffolk County regional campuses. Before that, she was director of a mentoring program for first-generation students at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., a master’s degree in American studies from the University of Wyoming and a doctorate in American culture studies from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Van Vlerah is responsible for the undergraduate student experience at Manchester. 

“Undergraduate retention is the job of everyone,” she said. “Each member of the university community has an impact on every student’s desire and ability to persist.”

Van Vlerah built the successful LIU Promise at Long Island University and Mercy College PACT programs, which were individualized to optimize the success of each student. 

A self-described “Jane of all trades,” she served as campus safety director at Trine University in Angola, Ind., worked in the provost’s office at Bowling Green, and has taught classes at every university where she has worked. She also worked at Saint Mary’s and the University of Wyoming.

Van Vlerah plans to live in North Manchester. She is an avid motorcyclist.