Who should be the next Tarleton president?

This story was reported by Haley Gillespie, Kathryn Irvin, Sabrina Rodriguez, Alexis Richmond, Tobie Sparkman, Lorynne Benavides, Hannah Herring, Mason Gonzales and Isaiah Valdovinos.

Tarleton State University’s next president should be a woman, a person of color, a former student, a person with a history at the university, or outsider with no ties to the campus.

Students, faculty and staffer have many opinions about who should fill the shoes of Dominic Dottavio when he steps down as Tarleton’s 15th president on July 31.

Some believe an outsider would be best.

“Having our new president come from outside the university will help with bringing in new ideas for the students and faculty,” Mayra Gutierrez, a 19-year-old criminal justice major from De Leon said. “It’s an opportunity to reach out and find someone new who could lead us to bigger and better things.”      

Brandon Assmann, a Dick Smith Library staffer, said,” I don’t think it should matter. Their race, their sex – none of that should matter. It’s what they do, not what they look like.”

“I’d love to see somebody of a different background step into that role,” Caris Thetford, the assistant director of Student Counseling Services said. “I’d especially like to see a woman of color in that position – to bring a different perspective, and a different lens to that role, and to what our campus is and where we are going as a campus.”


Larry Margolis, professor of government, legal studies and philosophy, said he believes its time for a woman to lead the university.

“I would like to see our first ever female president,” Margolis said. “Most of the college students now are female and there are some people I’m sure are qualified who are female. Dr. Dottavio was a great president. Someone like him would be fine but maybe someone like him who was female.”

Others say the next president’s gender or ethnicity shouldn’t be a factor.

The next president needs to be “someone who can take constructive criticism in case there are things that need to be improved,” Ty O’Grady, a psychology major from Whitney said. “I don’t think the demographics of the next president matters as long as they’re a good fit for the job.”

Yeidi Rios, Dick Smith Library Specialist and graduate from the University of Puerto Rico, said she would like to see a woman president, however qualifications should matter the most when it comes to race.

“I would like to see the new president from within, because the person is already familiarized and understands the culture of the campus,” she said. “Obviously, yes, you want to see something different, but at the end of the day it’s about who’s more qualified.”

Harley Downey agreed, saying, “I would like to see a president that is engaging with students and actually shows their face around the university rather than just hold the position. I think that the president coming from within would make sense. Having someone come into the position already knowing all the traditions and aspects of Tarleton definitely would be an easier transition but I am open to an outside candidate.”

Edward Smith, a graduate research assistant, said he hopes the Texas A & M University System Board of Regents will select an outside candidate rather than hire someone from Tarleton or within the system.

“I think there’s merit to having someone from outside – just because you get a fresh set of eyes looking at something,” Smith said. “It allows you to learn from a new set of people. It’s not a bad idea to have someone from outside of the (A&M) system, or even from outside of Tarleton. I think it would benefit us.”

Others, such as Aspen Talavera, believe the next president needs to have studied at Tarleton as a student.

“I believe life and career experience can make any alumni a great candidate for this position,” Talavera said. “Former students know the ins and outs of the college. Yes, it’s probably been a few years since they graduated but I believe there is something about being a former student at the university that makes it feel more like home and a family.

A former student “knows how much their university has to offer,” Talavera added.

The decision on who will be Tarleton’s 16th president will be made by the Texas A & M System Board of Regents, perhaps as early as this summer. Texas A & M System Chancellor John Sharp appointed a search committee to come up with a list of three candidates to recommend to the board.

Dottavio will have served as president for 11 years when he steps down.

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