Dr. Andrew Manion Is Edgewood College’s New President
Confronting America’s Pandemics
Dr. Andrew Manion assumed his duties as Edgewood College
president in June 2020.
By Jonathan Gramling
Dr. Andrew Manion, Edgewood College’s new president who assumed his duties June 1st has
had to deal with two pandemics that have been raging in America: the COVID-19 pandemic and
then the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd that revealed the historic treatment of African
Americans in America, and the systemic racism that leaves no institution untouched, including
In spite of the negative publicity that Edgewood College received about racial incidents that had
occurred on campus, it was still able to recruit a strong freshman class.
“We have a new leadership team in our enrollment management area,” Manion said. “Dr. Amber
Schultz is in charge of that now. This is her first class. She’s been here for about a year and she’s
done a great job with our staff bringing in this group of students. The other nice thing about this class is right now, it is about one-quarter AALANA, I think out most
diverse first-year class ever.”
Manion has acted quickly to enact some immediate change at Edgewood to deal with the systemic racism that has existed.
“We’ve created a taskforce to dismantle racism,” Manion said. “That group is a bunch of very talented, very committed faculty and staff who have already
developed some important premises for the kind of work that they are going to be doing. And they are going to have some students join them this fall. They basically
are going to be telling me, ‘Here’s what the institution needs to do in order to dismantle some of the systemic racism that exists even on a campus as welcoming as
we are. There is still plenty of work to do obviously in light of the events that happened.”
Manion has also ensured that there is a pipeline directly to his office within the campus leadership that will make sure that racial issues are dealt with on a timely
“There is a vice-presidential position, which we are about to announce: the vice-president for admission, values and inclusion,” Manion said. “We are marrying our
Dominican mission and values with our very intentional anti-racism agenda in a vice-presidential appointment so that one area of the college will be responsible for
not only seeing to it that our Dominican, Catholic mission is alive and well and also, in particular, the anti-racist part of that Dominican, Catholic mission is facing
front and center and is at the heart of everything we are doing. As far as I know, this is the first time we’ve had someone directly reporting to the president who has
anti-racist responsibilities. It’s a new position to take mission and diversity-inclusion and put them together and make it very, very clear that the reason we commit
ourselves to diversity and inclusion is because of our Dominican, Catholic heritage. It’s part and parcel of who we are. Dominicans have been anti-racists since
they were vocally opposed to the treatment of Natives by Christopher Columbus. It goes all the way back. This is something that I want to make sure that everyone
understands is an important part of us.”
Edgewood College will be holding in-person classes this fall. While students and faculty were given the option of in-person or distance learning, many chose to be
“The goal of the exercise is to make the environment as safe as possible for everyone and make sure that everyone is comfortable in the environment that they are
in,” Manion said. “Most students and most faculty are anxious to get back to face-to-face. But for those who aren’t, we are giving them the opportunity to remain
remote. My understanding based on preliminary numbers, what I’ve heard from our registrar, it’s about 5:1, the students who want to be on the grounds to the
students who want to be remote. Again that’s changing every time something else happens in the news. But we are anticipating 4-5:1 will be where we will end up.
They want to be with each other. It’s a community. And the students want to be back. I think a lot of our students and faculty feel that nothing replaces face-to-face
This has been especially true of the incoming freshman class.
“Last year, we had about 238 first-year students,” Manion said. “This year, we’re looking at upwards of 280. I’m knocking on wood when I say that because they
aren’t here yet. There’s another 90 or so transfer students. This is a pretty robust class. I think oddly that COVID-19 actually is encouraging students. A lot of these
kids spent their whole spring semester of their senior year in high school in their living room and I think they are ready to go to college.”
Holding online classes is nothing new to Edgewood.
“A number of Edgewood’s graduate programs have been delivered online for over 10 years,” Manion said. “They’ve been at it online for a while. Again, this is one
of those places where I think there is still potential for considerable growth. I should point out that with the students coming back this fall, we make a distinction
between online learning and remote learning. We’ve given the undergraduate students who are coming back this fall the option of taking their classes in-person,
face-to-face or remotely, which isn’t exactly the same thing as online. With remote learning, you are sitting in another place, but you are participating in a class
where people are meeting together and you’re just participating from a distance via video conferencing and that sort of thing. Remote learning is more like you’re
there participating in a class via video as opposed to online learning, which is more text based and the teacher and the students don’t necessarily meet at the same
Having this kind of flexibility and expertise is crucial to Edgewood’s future as it must be relevant to a larger — and increasingly diverse — segment of America’s
“There are over 20 million Americans who have some college credits and not a degree and are currently not enrolled in any college,” Manion said. “Despite the fact
that the number of 18-year-olds going to college — the demographics — is declining, there are lots and lots of folks out there who are still interested in higher
education. And I think Edgewood is pretty well poised to serve some of those folks.”
Even though faculty and staff will be returning to Edgewood’s campus this fall, the internal arrangement of the facilities will not be the same.
“We’re following all of the regulations that Dane County has put in place and then some,” Manion said. “We have the six-foot distancing in place. We’ve removed
furniture from classrooms to make sure that everyone is socially-distanced. We have mandatory mask wearing inside any building on campus. We are providing the
students and the faculty with the disinfectant and wipes to clean their workstations before they meet in classes. We’re eliminating the exchange of paper for the
most part so that assignments are being done online. Every student and every employee is agreeing to a pledge that is online now. It articulates that they will follow
the rules regarding COVID-19 safety as well as even when they aren’t on campus to do what they can to keep themselves from being exposed to it. There are a lot of
things in place. We’ve had a taskforce working on preparation for this fall since May. They’ve met twice a week and have developed a lot of protocols that will keep
our community safe.”
Edgewood College has several dormitories on campus and the college has taken measures to keep students safe and healthy within them.
“We have a lot of special protocols for the dormitories,” Manion said. “Our student life team headed by Dr. Heather Harbach has been working even more diligently
than the rest of us in terms of preparing the residence halls and the way that they are going to be treating shared spaces, how people are with their roommates, what
happens if a roommate starts to show symptoms. We have quarantine space set aside so that we can quarantine people. We have a pretty extensive set of
protocols put in place to keep the kids safe in the residence halls.”
And even food service will be different.
“We’ve changed the furniture around in our dining spaces so that people have to sit further apart,” Manion said. “This is the first year that we have had an all-you-
can-eat style food service, which will reduce the amount of time that people apparently spend in line. There is spacing in the lines. We’re having extended hours for
the cafeteria. There are more outdoor dining spaces that have been created. It’s all of the things that you would expect given what we’ve learned about COVID-19 so
far that we have put in place.”
It appears that Dr. Andrew Manion and Edgewood College are prepared to meet the many challenges that lay before it.