Based on Reporting by Blayne Ballard, Hadley Butler, Alexis Burkett, Kaia Clark, Leighann Elder, Abigail Farrer, Hayley Gillespie, Brandon Gutierrez, Jadie Hargrove, Hannah Herring, Hannah Holmes, Kathryn Irvin, Shelby Lawless, Tierra Mauney, Joseph Seaman, Bailey Templin, Jordyn Tipps and Caroline Wolf. —
After serving Tarleton State University as the president for the last 11 years, Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio will be stepping down from his position on Aug. 31, according to a letter sent by Dottavio from the President’s office. Texan News interviewed about their reactions to the Dottavio’s announcement.
“I think Dr. Dottavio’s legacy is his positive impact on Tarleton. We now have a new campus in Fort Worth, a new engineering building, a new stadium and a beautiful campus with numbers of students growing every year,” said Lauren Butler, a senior kinesiology major. “These moves were necessary for growing numbers (of students) and would not have happened without Dr. Dottavio’s say.”
Some students say Dottavio stepping down makes them feel emotional.
“When I first heard the news about Dr. D stepping down, it touched my heart, because he is like a father figure,” said Simone Dickson, a sophomore nursing major. “He encourages you to do good in school, and better yourself.”
“He has been very inspirational to my success in college,” said Tyler Schuster, a junior. “He was more than a president. He was a friend.”
Nikki Salker, junior wildlife major, said “I was a little upset when I heard about Dr. D leaving. He’s made such a big impact on this campus and is so personable with each student.”
Naoni Thatsanpon, junior biomedical science major said “Whoever steps up to become the president needs to not only fulfill the role but surpass (the role). He was always at events such as Duck Camp and takes part of them. You can tell he takes part and cares about the students.”
Freshman animal science production major, Meagan Kauffman expressed “As upsetting as it is that he’s stepping down, I think everyone should be excited that he’s taking on a new task and doing what he wants to do with his life. You’re never too old to answer the question ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ because we are all learning and wanting new things! I wish him the best of luck.”
Some students said they imagine the president’s job to be very stressful.
“I think he may be stepping down to alleviate some of the pressure as a president and focus on something that he seems to enjoy, which is being a professor,” said freshman Faith Brandh. “He may also want to get more (of a) one-on-one connection with students.”
Others said they can’t imagine how exhausting the job of president may be.
“Being around as many youths as he is constantly, you kind of get run down,” said Becca Manfredi, a freshman animal science major. “I think he’s honestly just tired.”
Devin Hughes, freshman agricultural communications major, said, “I feel like he’s stepping down to give more time to his family and live a happier life. I believe he is coming back as a professor so he can still be involved at Tarleton due to how it has impacted his life.”
One student feels like this is a good time for Dottavio to step down.
“It’s the perfect time (to step down),” said Kaley Dowell, sophomore psychology major. “Tarleton is on its way to becoming a D1 school so it’s very far in the process and the future looks bright. He wants somebody who can bring some more ideas into the school. I think he is coming back (to teach) because he loves Tarleton so much. He enjoys being with the students and loving all the students.”
Students appreciated seeing him at events and on campus.
“He’s always at everything,” Grace Clark, freshman agriculture business major said, “Dottavio and his wife both. They’re always smiling, like I’ve never seen them not smile. I feel like the next president is going to have a lot to do because he’s so involved. He’s literally at everything, and he kept up with every organization.”
“Him and his wife both are so present at everything,” said Jessica Doty, an alumni who graduated in 2018 with a degree in biology. “You see them walking on campus and they call you by name. There’s been nothing but positivity from both of them. They really focus on the core values, and I think that really stems from him because he lives those out daily.”
Seeing Dottavio on campus helped freshman agriculture business major, Kati Marcantel, feel at home on campus.
“As soon as I stepped on campus, I felt like I was at home and Dr. Dottavio definitely had something to do with that,” said Marcantel. “He would greet students and faculty while passing by and sometimes hold conversations while around campus.”
Tristen Foster is disappointed that he won’t be receiving his diploma from Dottavio: “I was looking forward to him handing me my diploma in May 2020, I was so excited to yet again shake his hand and feel like someone in the university is proud of me.”
Students and faculty alike said they hope whoever succeeds Dottavio will honor Tarleton’s traditions.
“I think it’s always good to have new stuff come in,” said junior Gabby Cortez. “But it (will) be hard trying to change our old ways since we are so used to them.”
Sociology Professor Dr. Robert Cavazos said Tarleton’s new president “should uphold the traditions, and he or she, depending on who it is, will bring in their own traditions as well and their own values and try to instill some of those in Tarleton.”
“He’s done so much good for the university, and he thinks he’s reached his potential,” Doty added. “Long story short, Dr. D is a humble man who realizes there is someone who can bring fresh ideas to the university.”