Maria Galli Stampino named dean of undergraduate studies

Stampino steps into a new administrative role

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

Stampino steps into a new administrative role

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
Maria Galli Stampino, who has served as an administrator in the College of Arts and Sciences, recently began an internship as dean of Undergraduate Affairs in the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.

Maria Galli Stampino discovered her passion for the United States’ higher education system in Lawrence, Kansas. It was a far cry from her hometown of Gallarate, not too far from Milan, Italy.

But she relished the contrast. In her native country, Stampino said college is viewed as an intellectual practice where professors deliver knowledge and students absorb it—not as a transformative period of life for young adults.

“In Italy, there’s no sense of the fact that these are crucial years in a young person’s life,” she said. “There are no dorms or residential colleges, and there’s no sense of the entire experience that makes you into a more mature human being.”

Her fascination with the U.S. college experience led Stampino to a position in the University of Miami’s administration in 2013, as a senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. Now, she can make an even larger impact on the University’s student body. Stampino was recently named dean of Undergraduate Affairs in the professional internship program, where she will work and train with Jeffrey Duerk, the University’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Stampino has plenty of familiarity with helping students advance their education. At the University of Miami, she has spent more than 20 years teaching Italian in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, where she has tried to infuse the U.S. philosophy of education into her classes.

“In the U.S., the classroom is seen as a place to learn from each other, which is important in a country with so many different constituencies and racial and ethnic backgrounds,” she said. “And the idea that everyone has a contribution to make is crucial.” 

She will use that same point of view in her new position. And Stampino hopes to learn from her colleagues, just as she has learned from her students. In her new role, Stampino will oversee the University’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement, the Registrar, Study Abroad, Toppel Career Center, the Office of Academic Enhancement, Undergraduate Education, and Undergraduate Research and Community Outreach.

According to Duerk, Stampino was tapped for the position because of her ability to overcome challenges with grace and her experience working at the University. Stampino has served as an administrator in the College of Arts and Sciences since 2013, and recently took a one-year leave of absence to serve as vice president and dean of academic affairs at the American University of Rome. She returned to serve as senior associate dean of faculty affairs and diversity in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Maria has vast experience in higher education leadership, and she listens very well to everyone’s concerns. She also brings an exuberance to the administration that will help us further improve our solid undergraduate program,” Duerk said. “She doesn’t always agree with me, but we find strong solutions together.”

Stampino, a dual citizen who is the only member of her extended family to leave Italy, said part of her decision to return to the U.S. last year came from her appreciation for the collaborative nature of its colleges. Stampino witnessed this firsthand in 2012, when she worked with faculty members across the University to found the da Vinci program, which supports students who want to pursue their interests in the arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences. Soon after, she joined the administration of the College of Arts and Sciences.

In her new position, Stampino said that she hopes to establish an “early start” advising program that could help incoming students navigate the University’s academic platforms before they arrive on campus. Therefore, an advisor would help them learn to register for classes and understand financial aid packages (if needed) while they are still in high school. She will also continue working with Darby Plummer, the University’s director of retention, to look for ways that they can refine academic advising across all undergraduate colleges and schools.

“I want to deepen the conversation with academic affairs deans about how to support advising for our students,” Stampino said.

According to Stampino, another way she wants to improve students’ experience at the University is by giving undergraduates more avenues to engage in research. Although there are opportunities for these students to do research in the sciences, she thinks that it’s a worthwhile experience for students of all disciplines.

“Research is a qualitatively different experience [from being in a classroom] and it asks questions to which nobody has answers,” she said. “It’s what allows you to hone your analytical and critical thinking skills. So, when you have a job and there’s an issue, you have the tools to solve it.”

When she is not working with faculty members or students, Stampino delves into her own research in Italian culture, literature, and drama. In between her administrative responsibilities, she often teaches independent study courses where she explores a piece of literature with a student. And Stampino pointed out that her research opportunities helped shape her career as well as her view on working with others.

“In universities, we are very good at creating specialized knowledge, which is important,” she said. “But research allows you to look at something from various points of view. This is critical because nobody ever has the answer by themselves.”