Dr. Sherry Dellinger, the new assistant vice president for Student Affairs, is a warm, inviting new face on the University of Dallas campus.
In her past home, North Carolina, Dellinger would visit homes for the elderly with her certified therapy dog, a Shih Tzu named Journey.
“I can’t keep Journey away from older people,” Dellinger said. “I drive him around to his gigs.”
Although she has not yet taken Journey to a visit in Texas, she hopes that once she has settled in she will be able to find a hospital or elderly home nearby to keep up with her practice.
Journey even visited during move-in day, and Dellinger hopes to bring him to campus more often.
“He’ll be with me when I visit the resident halls,” Dellinger says.
Doing rounds with the resident assitants, though not typical of a high level administration member, is an important goal Dellinger hopes will help her connect with students.
In her previous 25 years of experience, Dellinger coordinated events such as “donuts with the dean” and hopes to do the same things here at UD.
“I plan to be at as many social functions as I can,” Dellinger said, and mentioned TGIT as an even she particularly wanted to attend.
Another of Dellinger’s goals is to connect the academic, social and student-oriented sides of college.
“As assistant vice president I want to see student affairs really, completely, go hand in glove with academic affairs,” Dellinger said. “[Sometimes people] don’t really see the critical relationship between academic affairs and student affairs.”
“Research shows that students who are highly involved outside of the classroom tend to be better connected … have stronger GPAs, have less reported (sic) instances of homesicknesses or feelings of not fitting in,” Dellinger said.
In her former positions, Dellinger put these goals into action, even getting standalone counselors at two institutions.
Before Dellinger, these universities contracted out counselors for students — something she believes made it harder for students to go to them with their problems.
After leaving her last position, Dellinger was looking for a faith-based university with a small campus and a commitment to excellence.
The University of Dallas fulfilled those requirements for Dellinger.
UD is the second Catholic university Dellinger, a Protestant, has worked for.
“[I am] interested in many different ideologies,” Dellinger said.
After looking into hundreds of resumes for the position once held by Dore Madere, Executive Vice President Dr. John Plotts found his Dellinger.
Many had applied for the position, but only a few had the necessary qualifications to work with the school. Plotts was looking for two things: that the new hire would be sympathetic to the University of Dallas’ mission and that he would have experience.
“Sherry was my top candidate going into phone interviews,” Plotts said.
Her impressive 10-page resume includes the position of dean of students at both Campbell University and Bluffton University, an expertise in restorative justice and a track record of student relations necessary for her new position.
Plotts said that that he was won over during the phone interview with Dellinger, as she shared his views on working in administration and with students.
Plotts stressed her work with restorative justice, which is a focus for the UD administration.
Instead of a simple fine or punishment, the administration will work with the student to rectify the situation and help the student grow as a person.
“She and I were totally on the same page,” said Plotts.
After being selected to fill the position, Dellinger moved down to Texas, and was present for freshman move-in.
It was her 27th move-in day at a college, a testament to her vast experience working in the field.
Stepping into Madere’s shoes will be a challenge, but with her experience and passion for students, Dellinger should do just fine.