ON THE RECORD This New President Wants To Do Southern “Justice” Focus: Raising The Profile and A Commitment To Community Dr. Joe Bertolini, a boyish looking 52 and a native of southern New Jersey, is the new president of Southern Connecticut State University. SCSU serves more than 10,000 students with 440 full time faculty and 1,100 staff. Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system and former chief of staff to Governor Dannel Malloy, led the search that chose him. Bertolini has an extensive administrative background in higher education. His most recent job was president of Lyndon State College, a small Liberal Arts college [1,500 students] in the Northeast Vermont community of Lyndonville. He was a VP at Queens College in New York and a Dean of Community Development at Barnard College of Columbia University in addition to holding administrative positions at colleges in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and SUNY on Long Island. Bertolini has a doctorate from Columbia’s Teacher’s College, a Master in Social Work from Rutgers, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Scranton. ••• We’re going to start with a somewhat different question than might be expected, but Southern has had a growing tradition and strength in Sports and many of us look forward to the day that Owls’ Basketball teams best UCONN. Where does sports fit into the future as you see it at the University? I think they [sports] are very important. At Lyndon I would say sports were very important. I don’t think I realized how important it would be until I got there. Primarily because S eptember /O ctober 2016
there was nothing else there, it was the primary way for a small rural community to bring the student community together. Mostly centered on basketball, but hockey was also [big]. Prior to my Lyndon experience, I would certainly not classify myself about any sport whatsoever. And when you’re in a New York City school, people talk about professional sports. When I went to Lyndon, it was very important to me to be supportive of the students, whether it was sporting events or any other event, for that matter.
So we’ll see you at sporting events for sure. At the last football game, I was shooting the shirt canon. I’m not quite sure I’ll get to the Blue and White paint, although the students are anxious for me to do that. I did just go to the hockey game and drop the first ceremonial puck. If we went back fifteen or twenty years, we didn’t see the involvement of Southern in the wider New Haven community that we have under the previous two Presidents. At Barnard, you had the position of community development, what does that mean for us here in New Haven? It’s certainly multi-faceted. We’re part of the neighborhood and we need to be a good neighbor. You walk out of this parking lot, you make a right and you’re in the suburbs of Hamden. You make a left and you’re in the “projects.” We want to make sure that people know about us, that people are utilizing the resources that are here for the community and that we increase the number of New Haven residents coming to the University. [We push] community development by insuring that we’ve raised the profile that we’re involved in. Any way we can be with the community volunteerism initiative in the city, and that we’re partnering with the city, that we’re partnering with the chamber and business leaders, that we’re partnering with non-profit Continued on page 4 3