After conducting a comprehensive national search, Teaneck-based Fairleigh Dickinson University announced the appointment of Dr. Robert Pignatello as FDU’s first senior vice president for university operations.
“This is a key appointment and one that will have a major impact on our future growth and development,” said University President Christopher A. Capuano. “The senior vice president for university operations will be responsible for many non-academic matters on the New Jersey campuses, including facilities, student affairs, athletics, student counseling and health services, and public safety, to name a few.”
Capuano added, “Dr. Pignatello brings to FDU an impressive range of experiences in higher education, and I am confident that he will make many valuable contributions to our community.”
The senior vice president for university operations will be a member of the senior leadership team and will report directly to the president.
Dr. Pignatello brings to FDU extensive leadership experience as a senior executive in higher education. He most recently served as senior advisor to the Chancellor of the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education for Integration Strategy, a pivotal position in the plan to merge smaller institutions within that state. Prior to that, he served three years as the president of Lock Haven University, where he was very effective in building the University’s profile and highlighting its vital role and impact in the region.
Dr. Pignatello in particular possesses excellent financial and resource management expertise, and strong interpersonal and communication skills. He has prioritized institutional change efforts designed to advance academic vision and student success; enhanced an array of teaching and learning environments; built and strengthened stakeholder relationships; fostered professional communities of shared governance; implemented strategic planning initiatives; and advocated for evidence-based decision making among faculty and staff.
At Lock Haven, Dr. Pignatello improved shared governance by establishing the University Leadership Council that involved broader consultation with faculty and students; established strong campus-community partnerships around economic development; created a new marketing office and branding initiative; strengthened relationships among employee bargaining units, alumni, students, faculty, and community groups; improved access and increased enrollment for students while raising retention rates significantly; established a working group on student mental health and well-being; increased student engagement and inclusion; established the University’s first Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; created a task force on inclusion, civility, freedom of expression, and diversity; and increased the involvement of trustees and board members in brand development and other University-wide initiatives. An experienced crisis management leader, Dr. Pignatello also mobilized the community at Lock Haven to combat the challenges of COVID-19.
Dr. Pignatello has served in many other prominent roles including as senior vice president for finance and administration, and chief operating officer, at Hunter College (City University of New York), and senior vice president for finance and administration, and chief operating officer, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York). In addition, he has had significant experience as a local elected official and government-relations representative.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Dr. Pignatello has spent most of his life living in the Garden State. He has an Ed.D. in higher education leadership and management from Saint Peter’s University, a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University Graduate School, and a B.A. in political science and public administration from Montclair State University.
Dr. Pignatello will begin at FDU on June 1, 2021.
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