Robert Pignatello third candidate for LHU president

Robert Pignatello

From staff reports

LOCK HAVEN — Robert Pignatello is the third revealed candidate to become the next president of Lock Haven University.

Pignatello lists 20 years’ experience as a college vice president and institutional leader.

His current position is senior vice president for finance and administration and chief operating officer at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY).

Hunter is considered a flagship institution in CUNY with the largest number of students (23,000) and operating budget ($169 million) in the system and a wide variety of premiere programs.

There are seven campus locations including a high school and elementary school. It has more than 1,800 full- and part-time faculty with a wide breadth of scholarship and artistic achievement, with 4,500 total employees.

In his role, Pignatello has oversight for financial planning, budget, business services, human resources, technology services, facilities, public safety, space planning and capital projects, theater, continuing education, and non-degree enrollment, according to his resume.

Prior to joining Hunter, Pignatello was senior vice president for finance and administration and chief operating officer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, also a part of CUNY.

John Jay College offers its 15,000 students a liberal arts and criminal justice curriculum that balances the sciences, humanities, and the arts with professional studies. With a growing research and international profile, John Jay has a budget of $146 million, with 433 full time faculty, 750 adjuncts, and 1,350 non instructional staff represented by 12 bargaining units.

Pignatello also held the positions of vice president for administration and finance and vice president for administrative affairs at John Jay, dating back to 1998.

Among his accomplishments and involvement within CUNY, Pignatello was co-chair of the Finance and Planning Governance Committee and Middle States Resource Allocation. He also created a Public Safety Advisory Committee, chaired an Auxiliary Enterprise Corp., and was a member of the College Council and College Senate.

His resume states he worked toward an “effective steward of resources that advanced campus goals in a shared government environment. Maintained and enhanced cooperative and productive relationships with faculty leaders. Successfully collaborated with them on task forces, committees, and governing boards in an inclusive manner as part of the decision-making process to implement academic vision and strategic plans.”

Further, he helped to provide “critical strategic and steered financial support in the transformation of John Jay to a senior college focused on baccalaureate degrees, graduate studies and research while improving the overall student experience, engagement and outcomes after the phasing out of its associate degrees. Collaborated on the further development of a joint degree program with CUNY community colleges.”

Pignatello said he was called upon by the university president to lead executive level analyses and problem-solving efforts that cut across other divisions such as enrollment management, marketing, student affairs or academic affairs that had broad institutional impact.

He chaired a task force on the role of the academic department chairs that made recommendations which were implemented to support chairpersons and clarify their role, and worked with student affairs to create a student-centered environment and improve student services.

Also, Pignatello provided planning and financial support to create a student wellness center and improve dorm conditions, and worked to improve services for special needs populations.

His other duties include overseeing human resources “and successfully worked with bargaining units on labor-management issues involving contract provisions, health and safety, policies and procedures.”

Among other roles, he participated with the university president on regular labor-management meetings with the union leadership to address ongoing issues and maintain good relations, and “advanced and fostered the value of diversity. Increased college purchases with women and minority-owned businesses.”

Prior to this work in higher education, Pignatello had extensive local government experience. Within Verona Township, N.J., he served as mayor (1989-1991), deputy mayor (1987-1989), councilman (1985-1991), a member of the township’s board of health, chair of its building and grounds, vice chair of public safety and was a planning board member. Pignatello was elected twice to the township governing body. He “served as youngest mayor in the township’s history. Balanced budgets, lowered municipal tax rate, improved public infrastructure and services, launched mandatory recycling, negotiated salary contracts, reduced service costs, revised master plan and local ordinances, worked with board of education, collaborated with other local, state and federal officials, agencies on economic development, to secure grants and other issues,” his resume reads.

He also worked as administrator in the Essex County, N.J. Sheriff’s Department, and was legislative assistant and constituent services coordinator for the New Jersey State Senate in the early to mid 1980s.

Pignatello is the third revealed candidate for LHU president, as current President Dr. Michael J. Fiorentino retires in March.

This candidate joins Dr. Rodney Hanley and Dr. Bryan DePoy in visiting the LHU campus this week.

Pignatello will meet with staff, students, faculty and coaches and alumni at LHU on Thursday, throughout the day, including during forums open to these groups.

Students, staff and faculty with sign-in protocols on the university website can watch selected engagements live online with password protected access via Those viewing live for their respective open forum can participate in the discussion by sending questions for the candidate to

However, as noted by university officials, none of the candidate forums are open to the public, and the general public may not participate online.