Julia Carrano, a University of Dallas graduate from the class of ’02, has recently filled the position of dean of students in the Office of Student Affairs (OSA).
The role was formerly called assistant vice president for student affairs and was held by Sherry Dellinger. The title change comes with a departmental shift to move OSA under the Provost Office, which emphasizes how student life is being integrated into the other aspects of UD.
Carrano will report to Provost Johnathan Sanford, who believes that “Dean Carrano is an articulate defender of the integrated approach to formation that we strive for at the University of Dallas” as communicated through an email to The University News.
“She recognizes that we are dedicated to the intellectual, spiritual, and human or moral formation of each of our students,” wrote Sanford.
“The virtues of integrity and constancy, the virtues by means of which we remain the same person in each of our daily moments rather than flitting chameleon-like from one place to another, are both emphasized through the ways in which we encourage our students to synthesize the different elements of their UD experience, whether in the classroom, or in the dorm or at an event in Haggar, or in the chapel.”
As a dean, Carrano is part of the Board of Deans and heads the department of student affairs.
Carrano said that student affairs “includes the health center, counseling center, residential life, … student life and technically there’s kind of a dotted line to the newspaper.”
“We’re there to help serve the students, primarily in a non-academic context … What we’re doing is to help create the community aspect of the University of Dallas,” Carrano said.
Carrano said that the administration’s current goals of improving communication between departments and integrating faculty and administration into student life “resonate” with her.
Her plans as the new Dean of Students include feedback-based improvements to the counseling center and greater accessibility to the rec center and pool. She has also been devoting time to updating and improving disciplinary and grievance policies.
One of her long term plans is to improve the housing for students on campus.
“As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I wanted to know more about housing capacity,” Carrano said.
Carrano believes it’s necessary to look at either “substantial renovations” or new housing options entirely.
“I had great experiences with on-campus housing,” she said. “I just want to make sure that other people have good experiences, too.”
While Carrano will now have a pivotal role in OSA, during her time as an undergrad she was completely uninvolved in student affairs and doesn’t even remember the former dean of students, Fred Zuker.
As a UD student, Carrano majored in history, focusing mainly on ancient history.
“I decided when I was six or seven, I think, that I wanted to be an archeologist,” Carrano said.
She went on to get her masters in anthropology at UC Santa Barbara. She considers herself lucky to have gotten that experience, saying she was able to take part in “huge research projects in Sudan.”
Following her time at Santa Barbara, Carrano attended George Washington University Law School to receive a law degree which led her to work as a research professor at American University and then to more administrative positions at the University of Mississippi and John Paul the Great Catholic University.
Although her path back to UD was very “non-linear,” Carrano said UD taught her to think critically, which has helped her in each step of her life since graduating.
“I had confidence, not hubris but confidence, that I could work through a problem,” she said.
Concerning her decision to return to the University of Dallas, Carrano said that she saw the position was open and felt it would be a good fit. In comparison to other schools where she worked, UD offered her more opportunities for growth than a smaller school and gives her the opportunity to work with undergraduates again, something she missed while a part of the faculty at American University’s Washington College of Law.
She has devoted a lot of thought to how being an alumna will affect her position.
“I think it’s healthy for me to have that space, a significant amount of time away from the university,” said Carrano.
Carrano enjoys the connection between her love for the mission of UD, as a former student, and the “fresh eyes, … objectivity,… [and] room for [her] own independent thought process” the time away has given her.
Her memories of her time as a student at the University of Dallas “are largely the people I met, the friends I made, and the professors, their mentorship.” Carrano is excited to be able to come back and be colleagues with teachers who impacted and mentored her as a student.