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In memoriam: Dan Saracino, retired assistant provost for enrollment

Dan Saracino Daniel J. Saracino, retired assistant provost for enrollment at the University…
Dan Saracino in professional portrait in blue shirt and floral tie
Dan Saracino

Daniel J. Saracino, retired assistant provost for enrollment at the University of Notre Dame and a national leader in college admissions, died Sunday (April 7) in South Bend. He was 77.

“Dan exuded the spirit of Notre Dame and was a great representative of Notre Dame’s special nature throughout his leadership years,” Don Bishop, his successor at the University, said. “He was a great man of faith with a deep sense of Notre Dame.”

Micki Kidder, Notre Dame’s vice president for undergraduate enrollment, added: “Dan will be deeply missed, both in the Notre Dame family and the enrollment industry as a whole. He was a dear friend and mentor who shared his knowledge, kindness and passion to help others. He was a trusted steward of the mission of Our Lady’s University and an admired leader of enrollment.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in government and international relations from Notre Dame in 1969, Saracino stayed on campus to serve as assistant director of admissions from 1969 to 1975 and associate director from 1975 to 1977. He earned a master’s degree in education administration from the University in 1975.

Saracino then spent the next 20 years at Santa Clara University as director of admissions, dean of undergraduate admissions and dean of enrollment management.

He returned to Notre Dame in 1997 and, during his 13-year tenure, the University experienced a significant increase in the academic quality and diversity of applicants, admitted students and enrollees, all while maintaining its longstanding commitment to students who bring multiple talents to campus and value its mission as a Catholic institution of higher learning. The average SAT score of enrolled students at Notre Dame from 1997 to 2010 increased from 1325 to 1410, and diversity enrollment improved from 14 percent to 23 percent.

“Working with Dan Saracino was a special pleasure — he had a way of making you feel like you were working with him, not for him,” Bob Mundy, a retired director of admissions, said. “His deep affection for Notre Dame was fuel for his belief that it could be an ever-better place, in large part due to the incredible students who could and would call the University home under his tenure.

“Dan had a personality of thoughtful kindness and good humor, and he understood that good will was often best generated at a very personal level. His lasting legacy for me is in the many professional colleagues and personal friends who spoke so very fondly of him, usually around a meaningful act of kindness that he directed their way. The world is a little quieter, a little less spirited without Dan, and I am among the many colleagues who called him a friend, and will miss him greatly.”

Saracino played leadership roles in numerous national professional organizations, including the College Board, National Catholic College Admission Association, National Association for College Admission Counseling (serving as president in 1992), Conference of Jesuit Admissions Directors, Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, and the National Merit Scholarship and Lilly Foundation Scholarship committees. He also traveled extensively to international schools and military bases on behalf of the U.S. State Department and the Department of Defense.

“Speaking as an alum, a Notre Dame parent and an admissions colleague at the national level, I knew Dan to be a consummate professional and a man devoted to Notre Dame’s mission,” Jeffrey Brenzel, the retired dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University, said. “Thoughtful and generous, he inspired others to be likewise.”

After retiring from the University in 2010, Saracino continued to work with the State Department as a representative of U.S. higher education. He also maintained his passion for painting, creating watercolor scenes of the Notre Dame campus that the admissions office would send as Christmas gifts to high school guidance counselors nationwide during and after his tenure.

Saracino is survived by his wife, Marcia; three children, Christina Saracino Blakey (Jack), Gena Saracino and Danny Saracino, all Notre Dame graduates; and six grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday (April 14) at McGann Hay Funeral Home, 2313 Edison Road, South Bend. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 2:30 p.m. Monday (April 15) at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

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