After five years as Heidelberg’s president, F. Dominic Dottavio has been named the new president at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, effective Aug. 1.
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents confirmed President Dottavio’s nomination at its meeting Wednesday. He had been selected as the sole finalist for the position at the March Board of Regents meeting.
“With his wide range of experience and successes at Heidelberg, and his track record as a research scientist, Dr. Dottavio is a perfect fit for the top leadership role at Tarleton,” said Bill Jones, chairman of the Board of Regents.
As Tarleton’s leader, President Dottavio will supervise 1,200 employees, manage a $112 million annual budget and provide vision for a comprehensive curriculum for about 10,000 students at campuses in Stephenville, Killeen, Fort Worth, Granbury and Thurber.
At Tarleton, President Dottavio will return to return to his academic roots. Prior to entering the higher education arena, he had been a chief scientist with the National Park Service. He holds graduate degrees in agriculture and forestry and environmental studies, and his professional background aligns with many of the academic programs at Tarleton, the largest non-land grant provider of agricultural degrees in the country.
Additionally, family ties in Texas were a strong pull for Dottavio. The move will reunite President Dottavio and his wife, Lisette, with their two grown children, who have settled there.
While he is excited about the professional opportunities and challenges his new position offers, departure from Heidelberg and Tiffin will be bittersweet. “We have enjoyed the close-knit community ties of Tiffin, and we have a deep affection for the traditions and the history of Heidelberg College,” the president said.
“When I think about what I’ll miss the most, obviously, it’s the people. We have made some very dear friends here and have come to appreciate the love and commitment the faculty and staff have for this institution.”
During his tenure as Heidelberg’s president, President Dottavio led successful campaigns for student recruitment and retention, fund-raising and expansion of academic programs and strategic planning. “There are some very exciting things going on at Heidelberg, and I will miss the opportunity to be part of the positive change and growth on the horizon,” he said.
However, his ties to Heidelberg won’t easily fade. Adrea Dottavio graduated from Heidelberg in 2007. “We are extremely proud that our daughter is a Heidelberg graduate. That will serve as a lifelong reminder of the high quality of education that is provided here.”
President Dottavio believes he is leaving the college in a position of strength. “I have great confidence in the board and the senior leadership we have in place,” he said. With a focused mission and vision and clearly identified strategic goals, the college has “a very solid base to grow in the years ahead.”
Sondra Libman, chair of Heidelberg’s Board of Trustees, has appointed a search committee to name an interim president. The board will appoint a search committee this fall that will begin the task of seating Heidelberg’s 14th president.
“While the board is disappointed to be losing Dr. Dottavio as our president, the trustees and I share great excitement about the future of Heidelberg,” said Libman, who is an alumna of the college. “I believe one of his greatest contributions has been in re-engaging our friends, neighbors, alumni, faculty and students. Under his leadership, we have become a welcoming campus to all and a source not only for formal education, but for advice, counsel and entertainment.”