Senior Assistant Dean Theresa Carroll's bookshelf
Senior Assistant Dean Theresa Carroll's reading habits and her favorite books to assign and gift.

Theresa Carroll, PhD
Senior Assistant Dean for the Office of Academic and Student Services


In my First Year Seminar course—strongly encouraged for all first-generation, under-represented minorities, and anyone anxious about starting college—I always assign three books. President Jim Ryan’s Wait, What? has a nursing or healthcare reference in every chapter, and I have students write an essay about a question they feel is missing or is the one they would ask. I always assign chapters from The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, about topics like why we do group projects and the importance of taking risks. Another one I like is I’m Judging You, by comedian Luvvie Ajayi, which, even if it has some bad words, really helped me think about all the ways we communicate. She really gets students’ attention, and it gets good conversations going.


Every single one of my graduate assistants (it all started with Lili Coye [EDUC ’09]) gets the same bag of books from me, and a letter. It’s how I send them off, sharing books that mean something to me. Among the stack is usually Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, which reminds us how important it is for women to find spaces to grow, and Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel, which I received from my advisor back in graduate school. I tell the students I give it to, “I know that someday you will be someone else’s T.C., and this is my way of connecting the past to the future.”


Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh. I loved that book so much . . . my best friend Lisa White and I tried to be Harriet, walking around our neighborhood, and noticing things, like how many rolls of toilet paper our neighbor had in their garage—and why they needed so much.

I grew up in a different time, when women and girls were still being told they fit only into certain roles. But there was little that Harriet—and Nancy Drew, for that matter, who I also loved—didn’t question or notice or write down. I always tell my students, “I’m not a nurse, so I can’t really diagnose your medical problems,” but I can walk down the hallway to the bathroom and diagnose a lot of other problems I observe.


Going to graduate school in 1985 I read Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. She was the first female theorist who really spoke to me. What she wrote opened those doors in my mind—a lot like the anti-racism books from the last couple of years. If there had been a women’s studies major when I was in college, I’d definitely have been one.


So You Want To Talk About Race, by Ijoma Oluo, is incredibly relevant. It’s also a read you do with other people, especially those who are the same race as you so you’re not having to ask friends of different races to explain things to you.

How to Be An Anti-Racist, by Ibram Kendi, opened my eyes to a lot of things I hadn’t thought about before. He’s so honest and real in the ways he’s grown and developed, and the book is approachable, while still being challenging.


We have 10 acres of woods, and even on the hottest days it’s so nice in the screened in porch where I read. When it’s colder, we build fires most nights, and I pull my chair up to the fire. I’ve sent my sister about a million pictures of me with my feet up in front of the fire with a book in my lap!


Honestly, I’ll pretty much read anything you give me. I do like to have a good laugh!