Tarleton’s next president expected to be announced in August

Makenzie Plusnick


Texas A&M University System’s Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. James Hallmark expects that the next president of Tarleton State University will be selected in August.

The Trogdon House is currently lived in by Dr. Dottavio and his wife. They will soon move out to make room for the next president.
Photo by Makenzie Plusnick

Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio announced during the spring semester that he will be stepping down from his role as university president after 11 years. The Texas A&M System’s advertises the position as “responsible for implementing System policies, effectively managing the institution, and sustaining and enhancing the institution’s mission and overall operations while fostering and building upon the existing traditions, distinctiveness, and strengths of the University.”

According to the job advertisement, applications must be completed and turned in by June 26th.

Hallmark explained that the committee is looking for someone with certain skills.

“There are some specific things that Tarleton is developing and working on right now including our Fort Worth presence, we’ll be opening a campus there before long. It’s very different from running a campus where everyone is one location versus there being students in a lot of different locations. That’s a big piece,” Hallmark emphasized.

Hallmark said sports and possibly moving into Division I are a factor when looking at candidates.

“There is talk there on campus about moving to Division I sports. The committee and I are not taking any position on the sports presence, but… having a president who understands the importance and value of sports but also the importance of why the university exists, which is the academic component, and what’s the best thing for the campus in that decision.”

The search for the next president is still in the beginning stages. It is a closed process, meaning the applicants’ names will not be revealed. The finalists’ names will be released, as required by Texas law.

“The finalist stage will be in August. What we are looking at right now is a period where the job description is out there and advertised,” Hallmark said.

The position is being advertised on websites like HigherEdJobs.com. The Texas A&M System has also hired a search firm to help find candidates. They “keep a network of outstanding academic leaders… from around the country,” Hallmark explained.  

Once someone is interested, the candidate will begin the process of applying.

“There’s a fairly extensive amount of information they have to provide and the search firm will then come to the committee and on the basis of that information, we’re going to end up with the search committee looking at maybe 20, 25 people,” Hallmark said.

The Presidential Search Committee is made up of 14 members from different backgrounds. There are members from the Texan A&M University System Board of Regents, as well as Tarleton faculty members, the Fort Worth mayor, and a student representative.

“That group will read through all the stuff and narrow it down to, I’ll say, eight people. Could be seven, could be nine, I’m just throwing out a number here,” Hallmark explained. “These are people they want to talk to face-to-face and this is all happening in July for this stage.”

From there, the committee will recommend at least three applicants to the Board of Regents. The board will then begin interviewing the candidates.

“The regents ultimately vote on who the president will be,” Hallmark concluded.

Hallmark estimates that the next president will be announced in late summer.

“It should be in August. It could be the committee looks at it and says we don’t have the next president here. If they say that we do not have the next president in here, we will keep looking,” Hallmark estimates. “There are some outstanding people out there who could be president and you have a strong university, poised to be better. So, we’re pretty comfortable we’ll yield a good leader for your campus. Theoretically, it could go on until we find someone, but we think it will be done in August.”

Hallmark said there are “too many variables involved” to know whether the president will be selected by the time the fall semester begins.

If Dottavio steps down from his role before the next president is set to begin, an interim president will be appointed.

“We’ve done several different things. For example, at one campus, I’m the vice chancellor of academic affairs at College Station, and I served as interim president for three or four months while we finished the process,” Hallmark recalled. “We don’t have anybody in mind at this point because we think we are going to beat the deadline, and it could just be a few days, so I’d call Dr. Dottavio and say I know you said you’re stepping down August 31st but unless you are hopping on a plane how about you stay with us till September 5th, or whatever the date might be.”

Hallmark feels confident in the search committee’s ability to find the next president.

“You are not representing your academic department or your staff position. You are representing the university. They are thinking broadly about what is it that is in Tarleton’s best interest. I can’t promise that, but I think we selected a really good committee… I am optimistic that the university will be pleased with who ultimately the committee recommends.”

Dr. James Hallmark, Texas A&M System’s Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, expects the next president to be selected in August.
Photo courtesy of West Texas A&M.

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