Bob Gatti, Otterbein’s dean of students and vice president for student affairs, is retiring in July after serving an entire 41-year career at Otterbein. 

Throughout his career at Otterbein, Gatti has overseen multiple campus offices and programs, like the Office of Residence Life, Center for Community Engagement, Center for Career and Professional Development, Chaplain, Counseling, Food Service, University Health Services, Police Department, Athletics, and many more. 

According to Gatti, one of his major Otterbein career highlights was in his first year as vice president, when he established the Office of Diversity, now the Office of Social Justice and Activism. In the past six years, Otterbein has seen diversity rates rise from 11 percent to almost 19 percent.

“One of the things that I’m most proud about is what we’ve done in the area of diversity,” said Gatti. “We’ve brought our retention rates up in the last couple years so that our students of color match those of our white students, so I'm really proud that we’ve been able to close that achievement gap.” 

          

Gatti worked closely with President Emerita Brent Devore to make Otterbein's campus a more diverse and inclusive environment.

"It has never been about him," said Devore. "It has been about students. His care of the well-being of others has helped Otterbein feel like a healthy community. He was great colleague for 25 years and a great friend."

“The things we’ve been able to do, it’s not because of me," said Gatti. "It’s a team. If anything, the only thing that I’ve done well is hire good people and helped them get the resources that they need to be successful at their work.”

          

In his many roles on campus, Gatti has interacted with students and staff members from all university departments. 

Michael Anderson, who worked closely with Gatti as an intern for Student Affairs, said Gatti has a positive influence on student life at Otterbein. 

"Dean Gatti has always stood up for the rights and well-being of students," said Anderson. "He is always going out of his way to get to know students individually and on a personal level."

Becky Smith, emerita executive director of alumni relations, was directly supervised by Gatti for 23 years as a student and a colleague. 

"He [Gatti] has been a thread through the decades, being able to connect people, engage them and challenge them to come out lifted and feeling like a success," said Smith. "Bob is a person of high integrity. He gave me opportunities to blossom, to learn from my mistakes, to see them as opportunities and aim higher."

Gatti’s career at Otterbein began in 1978, when he took a position as a residence hall director. Following this, he became a fraternity adviser and Campus Center director before turning down other job offers and accepting his current roles in 1992 with encouragement from his predecessor, Joanne Van Sant.

The university recently announced that Gatti will now be the namesake for the Service with Integrity Award at the annual Service and Leadership Awards ceremony. 

According to Gatti, the positions of vice president and dean for student affairs will be filled by an interim staff member following his official retirement. The positions will then likely be split between two professional staff members.