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PA State Universities’ System Fills Another Of Its Presidential Openings

Robert Pignatello & William Behre
Robert Pignatello & William Behre

A senior vice president at Hunter College of the City University of New York has been named as the next president of Lock Haven University.

The State System of Higher Education’s governing board on Friday selected 57-year-old Robert Pignatello to take over the helm of the 3,900-student university in Clinton County on July 1. He will be paid a $232,000 salary.

He succeeds Michael Fiorentino who is retiring at the end of the month after serving as Lock Haven’s president for nearly seven years. The university’s Provost Donna Wilson will serve as interim president until Pignatello’s arrival.

Pignatello comes to the position with more than 20 years’ experience as a college senior executive and administrator in the CUNY system. He started out in that system at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Since February 2016, has been senior vice president for finance and administration and chief operating officer at Hunter, a 23,000-student flagship university in the CUNY system that has a $169 million annual operating budget.

Previously, Mr. Pignatello was a council member, deputy mayor and mayor of the Township of Verona in New Jersey; an administrator in the Essex County Sheriff’s Department in Newark; and a legislative assistant in the New Jersey State Senate.

He holds degrees from Montclair State University and Rutgers University, both in New Jersey, and expects to complete work this year on his doctorate from Saint Peter’s University in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

“Mr. Pignatello is a seasoned leader with experiences from both inside and outside of higher education,” said system board Chairwoman Cynthia Shapira. “His tremendous list of accomplishments throughout his career speaks for itself. We are confident he will provide Lock Haven University outstanding leadership as it continues to advance its mission of serving students, the Lock Haven community and the Commonwealth.”

His hiring comes on the heels of last week’s selection by the system board of Georgian Court University Provost William Behre to be the next president of Slippery Rock University, effective July 1. He will receive a $278,000 salary.

Behre, 52, has nearly 25 years’ experience in higher education, including as an educator, researcher, faculty leader and administrator. He has served as Georgian Court’s chief academic officer since February 2014.

He succeeds Cheryl Norton, who retired from the Butler County institution in July 2017 after five years. The university’s former Provost Philip Way has been serving as the 8,900-student university’s interim president since last summer.

With those hirings, that leaves only two presidential openings in the 14 university system yet to be completed. One is for the top post at Clarion University that opened up following interim Chancellor Karen Whitney’s departure and the other is at Millersville, where former President John Anderson retired on March 1.

The system’s board is hoping to name a successor to Anderson at its meeting in April, according to system spokeswoman Alicia Brumbach. Clarion University is extending its search to seek additional candidates, according to the university’s website.