Originally published by The Criterion. See the full story.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis honored Daniel and Beth Elsener, president and first lady of Marian University, with the Community Service Award during the Celebrating Catholic School Values Awards dinner on Wednesday, November 5.
In nominating them for the Community Service Award, one anonymous person wrote, "The acceptance of God’s vocation for them as individuals and as a married couple has meant a recognition that the advancement of Catholic education lies at the very heart of their life’s purpose and ministry."
Daniel and Beth Elsener’s “all-in” approach to life began with their commitment to each other and their openness to have nine children.
They have continued to touch lives ever since, especially in the area of Catholic education, where Dan started his career as a teacher, principal and superintendent of schools.
“With a growing, young family, Beth and Dan together accepted the sacrifices that often must be made to serve as an educator in the Catholic school system, and were a united presence at the fundraising events and social engagements that were a function of Dan’s position.”
That commitment led the couple in 1992 to Indianapolis, where Dan served the archdiocese as the executive director of Catholic education and the executive director of stewardship and development while Beth focused on their children’s education at St. Roch School, St. Barnabas School and Roncalli High School.
Beth also encouraged Dan to become the president of Marian College in 2001—the beginning of a 13-year-and-continuing journey that has transformed the college, has had a spiritual influence on the archdiocese, and has had an academic and health-related impact on the city and state.
During that time, student enrollment at Marian has increased yearly, the college officially became a university, and the school’s College of Osteopathic Medicine became Indiana’s first new medical school in more than 100 years. Marian has also established the Academy for Teaching and Learning Leadership to train principals and other school administrators.
In working to make Marian a great Catholic university in Indianapolis, Dan has been consistent in what he views as the foundation and the path to that goal.
“Faith is the bedrock,” he said. “We see God in everything.”
That approach has always connected the Elseners—who have been married 38 years—as a couple and a family.
“I think it comes from both of our parents,” Beth said. “They had very strong faith. And it’s a big part of our marriage and our children’s lives. Everything we’ve done has been a leap of faith. And it’s just been great. It has a very deep meaning to all of us.”