AVP for Student Success Dr. Emilio Carranco retires after 32 years at Texas State


Lane Fortenberry | February 2, 2024

Headshot of Dr. Emilio Carranco.
Dr. Emilio Carranco

For more than 30 years, Dr. Emilio Carranco, assistant vice president for Student Success and director of University Health Services, has advocated for the health and well-being of Texas State University students. On Jan. 31, he retired from TXST.

Carranco, a graduate of Yale University who earned Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, started as a temporary part-time physician in 1990 when the TXST Student Health Center was located in Brazos Hall on the San Marcos Campus. He developed an interest in college health and was hired as a full-time staff physician in 1991.

The following year, the director of the Student Health Center stepped down and Carranco was appointed interim director. He became the permanent director in 1993.

“I was interested because I was so intrigued by this thing called ‘college health,’” Carranco said. “I immediately saw opportunities for improving the quality and scope of our services, so I jumped at the opportunity.”

As the university grew, the Student Health Center expanded its services to include urgent care, sports medicine, sexual and reproductive health and travel health. As mental health became the most significant health issue for college students, Carranco took steps to improve the quality of mental healthcare by adding psychiatrists, increasing training for primary care providers, adding an integrated counselor, and implementing a collaborative care approach to mental health.

“I wanted us to excel at addressing mental health issues, so we had a very concerted effort over three years with the assistance of a psychiatrist on staff and our primary care doctors,” he said. “We had a very intentional effort to train all of our primary care providers to be better at diagnosing and treating mental health.”

The Student Health Center achieved accreditation in 2003 through the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc. — receiving the maximum three-year accreditation. The Student Health Center has gone through multiple accreditations since then and obtained the maximum period each time.

“Getting accredited was big because prior to that, student health services across the country weren't known for being the best healthcare providers,” he said. “People would sometimes call them ‘quack shacks.’ It was derogatory, and it really bothered me. Our accreditation is important because of what it says to the community and to our students about the quality of the care we provide. It also challenged us to keep getting better as a healthcare organization.”

In 2000, a comprehensive program review of the Student Health Center was conducted.  The review team included representatives from across campus, the dean of the College of Health Professions, and an outside consultant who was the director of the University of Oregon Health Center. Recommendations from the program review included building a larger Student Health Center.

Under Carranco’s leadership, TXST built the Student Health Center in San Marcos and added satellite clinics at Thorpe Lane and on the Round Rock Campus.

“I really enjoyed working with the architects and the construction company to design a facility that our students would enjoy because we asked for a lot of student input,” he said. “Students kept telling us they wanted a facility that's welcoming, warm, has a lot of light, and all the equipment you need to provide us with the best possible care.

“It has allowed us to expand our services and is probably the most comprehensive healthcare facility outside of a hospital anywhere in this area. The building really did deliver on its promise, which was to help us deliver a broader scope of services to our students.”

An overhead shot of the Student Health Center on the San Marcos Campus.
Under Carranco’s leadership, TXST built the Student Health Center in San Marcos (pictured) and added satellite clinics at Thorpe Lane and on the Round Rock Campus.

Pegged as the TXST chief medical officer by former President Denise Trauth during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carranco guided the university through the pandemic, consistently sharing information and coordinating responses. The title was given to him to signify his authority as a trusted source while he oversaw the university’s COVID-19 response plan.

The first health advisory was sent to the university community in January 2020, well before the university reported its first positive case on March 4, 2020.

Carranco’s team met with the president’s cabinet on a weekly basis to provide updates on COVID-19, give recommendations for needed adjustments to the response plan, and offer guidance on any new courses of action.

“It was a very intense period of my career because I was eating, sleeping, drinking, and dreaming COVID-19,” he said. “I felt an awful lot of stress and pressure because the recommendations that I was going to be providing could potentially have significant impacts, positive or negative. So, I felt a lot of weight on my shoulders during those early months because I wanted to get it right.

“But then as we got into the pandemic, I started to feel very confident that what I was recommending was the right course for the university. Typically, we were right in line with what everybody else was doing, only we were doing it sooner.”

In addition to expanding services and leading the COVID-19 response plan, Carranco points to becoming a tobacco-free campus in 2011, accepting private insurance in 2014, becoming co-chair of the Health and Well-being Task Force in 2022, and changing the department name to University Health Services in 2023 as significant highlights during his tenure.

“I stayed here because from the very beginning, I sensed that this university was growing in all the right ways,” he said. “I am a product of higher education, and my life was totally enriched by the fact that I got to go to college and then medical school and then work here. I have this passion for higher education because I understand how it can change your life.

“Early on, I got the sense that Texas State really wanted to make higher education possible for a more diverse group of people. What I saw over the years was the university expanding the diversity of the student population and having more conversations around helping students succeed. I couldn't leave.”

Carranco worked under three TXST presidents during his 32-year career — Presidents Supple, Trauth, and Damphousse.

“I am grateful for the many years of service that Dr. Carranco gave to Texas State University,” said President Kelly Damphousse. “His passion to lead (and to inform leadership) was never more evident than during the COVID-19 crisis, where he helped lead TXST’s administrators, faculty, staff, and students through those most challenging days. He is leaving Texas State better than he found it, and for that we are very grateful.”

Carranco’s team recently launched MedCats, a new high-impact learning experience for TXST students to volunteer in the Student Health Center, which resulted in 175 applicants for 19 positions. In his honor, TXST set up the MedCats Excellence Fund, which will support the program.

"Dr. Carranco has always been community-oriented and his belief in health and well-being has extended to the entire Texas State community," said Cynthia Hernandez, vice president for Student Success. “Not only has he been a gifted administrator, his calm, measured approach gave comfort to our university community during difficult and unprecedented times. His commitment and service bring great honor to our Division of Student Success, our beloved university, and the great State of Texas.”

A retirement reception was held on Jan. 30 in the LBJ Student Center Ballroom to celebrate Carranco’s career at TXST. There, he was joined by administrators, faculty, staff, and former employees who wanted to wish him well.

“I'm just constantly amazed at the talent that our students bring with them to the university,” he said. “This is hard work sometimes. And when you're feeling down and you're feeling like you're not getting things done, all you have to do is go out and interact with students. They have so much energy and so much hope. I'm going to miss my colleagues and all the folks I've been working with, but I'm ready for the next journey and I'm hopeful that the university will continue down this wonderful path.”

Dr. Sarah B. Doss, chief medical officer at University Health Services, will assume the role of interim director effective Feb. 1.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922