Dr. Joseph Bertolino, or “Joe” as he prefers to be called, the fourth presidential candidate to visit Slippery Rock University, participated in his open forum interview on Tuesday afternoon at the Alumni House.
Bertolino currently serves as the Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs, Executive Assistant to the President and Chair of the Department of Student Personnel at Queens College/City University of New York.
He has lived on every college campus that he has worked in.Bertolino chose to come to SRU because he is very familiar with Slippery Rock. He started his career at East Stroudsburg University as a hall director.
Bertolino is not a traditional candidate and hasn’t followed the traditional academic path. He has spent the last 22 years as an administrator, never aspiring to be a president.
Instead, he was inspired to be the chief student affairs officer, which is the position he currently holds. Others have told him that he may want to consider a presidential career given the fact that the nature of presidency is changing. As a face of an institution and as a fund raiser, he is a nontraditional candidate.
Over the path of his career he has been tested, he said, and he knows what it’s like to call parents and tell them their child is not coming home, he knows what it’s like to live on campus and interact with faculty, students, staff and administrators.
Bertolino said what is most important about him is that he follows the three Pspurpose, planning, passion. What is our purpose? How are we getting there? And do we have a passion for it?
Originally he was a candidate in another presidential race, when a headhunter firm called him and told him to pull out because they wanted him to run for SRU. They wanted a candidate that is student centered and believed this is the right institution for him.
According to Dr. Bertolino, multiculturalism on campus can be promoted by ensuring the university is providing a welcoming environment for students, staff, administrators and faculty from different religions, ethnicities and backgrounds.
Bertolino said SRU is very focused on education, so there is an opportunity to take those students who are teachers and help them to be a resource for students in the school district and other districts where there are underrepresented groups.
“This allows us to engage in partnerships with community organizations to help build and recruit students from other organizations and from other areas of the state,” he said. “The students need to be prepared to work in a global society if they are going to be successful.”
His views on environmental sustainability are that there should be partnerships with the community and the township in terms of sustainability initiatives that connect the town to the university.
Bertolino also believes in educating students with regard to different levels of sustainability such as recycling and what we are using in terms of custodians, cleaning supplies etc.
Bertolino’s priorities, if chosen to be president, would be providing a quality education, engaging into student’s success, nurturing environment for faculty and staff and focused financial development and security. For Bertolino, the first priorities are relationships and building a community. Secondly, generating revenue. Don’t count on the state to do that, Bertolino said.
Public institutions need to think about how are they funding themselves using a private school model. But how do you do that without raising tuition? Making sure every dollar is spent wisely and efficiently, Bertolino said.
According to Bertolino, choosing to be a president is a lifestyle choice and demands a high level of dedication.
“No good president can do something within 5 years anyway, I mean who are we kidding, but this is not a stop for me,” he said. “SRU is about to turn a page and it needs a president who is willing to get their hands dirty to pound the pavement to be out front and centered to bring others with them to say SRU is a great place and expand beyond the reputation it already has.”
Bertolino was asked to sum up in one sentence why he should be SRU’s next president.
“Because I have a fire in my belly to do it,” he said. “It’s time I am ready.”