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Dean Chiarello: Prospective Student Turned Administrator

Colgate University

Dean Chiarello: Prospective Student Turned Administrator

When Assistant Dean for Administrative Advising Doug Chiarello attended Colgate University’s Admitted Students’ Day in the spring of 1994, he had no idea that this was the place he would come to spend the rest of his life. Feeling a connection to the university as soon as he stepped on campus, Chiarello enrolled in the institution and never truly left. He went on to graduate, work in his first post-college job and eventually pursue his professional career while raising a family all in the small town of Hamilton, N.Y.

Chiarello has 630 students under his advisory, spanning across all four class years. Chiarello described the purpose of administrative deans at Colgate and the role they are supposed to play in students’ four years at Colgate. 

“Unlike your academic advisor, your administrative deans stay with you from day one to when you graduate. Your dean can be a significant part of your life and see you through the ups and downs and the challenges and the stress and heartache and the celebrations. We are not part of the counseling staff [or] the academic staff, but we can help steer you and be an adult source to help you through your days and Colgate experience.”

According to Chiarello, students come to him for guidance on all types of issues, ranging from smaller ones, like a missed deadline to more serious ones, like explaining extended absences and disciplinary matters. His days consist of meeting with students all day long to listen, help and answer their questions. When asked to elaborate on what matters he actually deals with in these meetings, Chiarello could not come to a singular answer, speaking to the multi-faceted, important role he plays in his students’ lives. 

“Really, the role [of an administrative dean] is to be available to help you through all different things. Some of it may be listening, some of it may be offering advice, some of it may be offering tough love [and] some of it may even be giving great pep talks. What we’re really good at is trying to make your Colgate experience as good as possible and having you know you have so many resources available to you.”

Chiarello credits his father for much of who he is today. In addition to being a self-made, successful business owner who began his own office supply and coffee distribution company, Chiarello remembers his father as a great father and central figure in the community in his hometown of Nassau, N.Y. When asked to describe one of the most important lessons his father taught him, he elaborated on the extent of his father’s impact and how it has translated into his life today. 

“Growing up, my greatest influence and role model was my father. He showed me how to be a great friend, person and father. He taught me that it was always important to leave things better than when you arrived and to show that you care for people.”

Prior to his current role, Chiarello occupied a multitude of other roles at Colgate, including admissions officer, major gift fundraiser with the advancement team and even interim vice president in 2018. After a position for administrative dean opened up two years ago, Chiarello, wanting to connect with the university’s student body more, entered this new chapter in his career. Even though it requires him to deal with some difficult situations, Chiarello loves his current position and how it enables him to truly connect with and positively impact the Colgate community around him. When asked to describe his favorite part about his job, it is clear that he is fulfilling his initial purpose for entering this position.

“I enjoy having a positive impact [and] helping students along their Colgate journey through thick and thin. Knowing every day that [I am] making a positive impact on students’ lives, especially during the pandemic … and being able to provide that help … means a whole lot.’” 

Chiarello is looking forward to continuing his second year as an assistant administrative dean, and is excited to continue strengthening his relationship with his old students and meeting his new ones.