His time away from Temple University was brief – just seven months – but he was greatly missed.
“It was like having a colleague out on maternity leave,” Katie D’Angelo, associate dean of students, said of Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Ainsley Carry’s return to Temple.
“He came back after a few months with a beautiful baby,” D’Angelo said referring to Carry’s eight-month-old daughter, Aliyah.
Carry, who returned to Temple in July, left to become the assistant vice president for student affairs at the University of Florida last November.
He said he had very mixed emotions when he left Temple. He had grown to love the culture at Temple but going to Florida was an opportunity to live out the dream of returning to his alma mater.
“It was a significant loss for me professionally because Ainsley had left his mark on so many student affairs initiatives that I missed him,” Vice President of Student Affairs Theresa Powell said.
Associate Dean of Students Amy Hecht said she felt the same.
“I was happy for him when he left on a personal level,” she said, “but professionally, I knew that Temple was at a loss.”
Powell looked for someone new to fill Carry’s position, but after her top candidate accepted a job elsewhere, she said she knew there was no one else for the position except Carry.
Fortunately for her, Carry wasn’t completely happy with his new position.
At Florida, he worked mainly with the administration and missed his work with students. He also said he is passionate about the types of students at Temple.
“In terms of fit, Temple was a better fit for me professionally. Temple fits who I’ve become,” Carry said.
Now that he is back, Carry hasn’t wasted any time attempting to improve the student experience.
“We want all students to walk around feeling that they are connected, whether it be in the classroom, student groups or on an intramural team,” Carry said.
To get feedback from students, Carry is working with Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico on a monthly “take the provost to lunch.” Staiano-Coico said she wants to hear students’ concerns and what they like about Temple. She also said she would like to have a way to touch base with a cross section of students, not just student government or athletics.
Carry and Staino-Coico are also working on programs for alcohol and drug abuse prevention. The provost said she wants to educate students on the dangers of high-risk drinking.
D’Angelo said student life has had an incredible growth since Carry first arrived at Temple in September 2004.
“I think he’s worked very hard at developing his skills as a coach, which is very significant for his role as dean of students,” D’Angelo said. “He identifies the strengths and talents of the people he serves and then creates opportunities. He’s always looking for untapped potential.”
In terms of student affairs, Carry and Powell are focusing on five main areas to improve: professional development, student learning, communication and collaboration, technology and assessment.
Powell said Carry has become more focused and committed to Temple since his return.
“Of all the professionals I’ve worked with, Ainsley is one of the most exceptional people I’ve worked with,” she said.
Working with Carry, Powell said she has hope that she has someone very hardworking by her side.
Carry also had someone dependable by his side when he made the decision to return to Temple.
“In coming back, my wife has been very flexible,” he said.
He and his wife moved back into their home in West Chester and settled into life with their new daughter. He said he misses his family in Florida, but he will visit them.
“I do have a lot of family in Florida and in-laws in Georgia, but they understood,” Carry said. “That was a big part of our decision to move there, but we’ve redefined our relationship.”
Carry said his staff has welcomed him back with open arms.
“I was concerned how people would react, but I’ve been pleasantly grateful,” he said.
“The school drew him back,” Staiano-Coico said. “It’s very interesting when people realize that there is something so unique and special about Temple students.”
LeAnne Matlach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.