LHU presidential hopefuls have different backgrounds

Dr. Bryan DePoy

LOCK HAVEN — Dr. Bryan DePoy, vice president at Lake Erie College, and Robert Pignatello, vice president and COO at Hunter College, are the top two candidates for Lock Haven University’s next president.

The LHU Council of Trustees held a brief meeting Monday and quickly voted to recommend them to the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

The university is required to recommend two names to PASSHE, reported Guy Graham, past president of the trustees and chair of the search committee.

Trustee Mary Coploff abstained from voting, saying she was out of the country last week when DePoy, Pignatello, and two other candidates were invited to visit campus, and therefore did not have as much information as the other trustees might.

She attended the council meeting in person, as did Council President George Durrwachter, Graham, Michael Hanna Jr., and student trustee Thomas Bates.

Robert Pignatello

Most of the other trustees attended and had the ability to vote by phone. (Krystjan Callahan and Deborah Suder were absent).

The meeting was open to the public. A number of staff members of the nonprofit LHU Foundation were among those who came to hear the top two names.

Dana John Cohick, vice president and senior consultant of search consulting firm RPA Inc., spoke briefly about the two recommended candidates. Also at the meeting from RPA was the firm’s president, Richard Allen.

The two candidates appear to be significantly different. Both have experience in college administration, but at two different institutions.

DePoy is vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, a position he has held since January 2015. He also served as interim president of the college in June 2016 amid a transition.

Lake Erie College has about 1,100 students.

DePoy’s past experience also includes serving as dean of the College of Creative Arts & Communication at Youngstown State University. He also served as interim dean of graduate studies and associate provost for research at Youngstown State University and interim dean and assistant dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Southeastern Louisiana University.

He has a Doctor of Music degree from Florida State University, a Master of Music degree from the University of New Mexico, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University School of Music.

He also has taught on the college level.

Pignatello 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 has the largest number of students, at 23,000, in CUNY, as well as the largest operating budget.

Previously, 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 and also larger than LHU.

He holds a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University Graduate School and a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Montclair State University. He is a candidate for Doctor of Education – higher education leadership and management at St. Peter’s University, which he is expected to complete this year.

In addition, Pignatello served as mayor of Verona Township, N.J. from 1989 to 1991. 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.

The final decision on who will be Lock Haven University’s 15th president lies with the board of governors of the state system, reported Graham, who has participated in two previous searches for a president of LHU.

He and Durrwachter will attend the board of governor’s meeting March 14 in Harrisburg to support the two candidates, he said.

The hope is that the governors will make a choice on that day.

Current President Dr. Michael Fiorentino Jr. will retire March 30, and Dr. Donna Wilson, provost and executive vice president, will become interim president.

The academic year ends June 30, and it is hoped that the new president can step into the leadership position on or before July 1.

Voting members of the search committee, under Graham’s leadership, were Durrwachter, Cindy Allen, Mark Cloud, Trevor Dietz, Daniel Elby, Matt Girton, Lynn Gray, Rich Heimer, Deana Hill, Jill Mitchley, Nicole Rall-Miller and Ed Wright, representing the many constituent groups of the university. Resource members included Dr. Michael Driscoll, Indiana University of Pennsylvania president; state Rep. Mike Hanna, Board of Governors member; and Peter Garland and Lois Johnson of the PASSHE Chancellor’s Office.

“I am extremely thankful for the hard work and dedication of our committee that worked as a cohesive team in reviewing a strong pool of candidates on an accelerated schedule,” Graham said. “The four candidates brought to campus last week were uniquely qualified for the position with their individual skill sets and experience. I am very pleased with the selection of Bryan DePoy and Robert Pignatello and am confident that either of them will be able to provide the leadership needed to continue the legacy of excellence at Lock Haven University.”

Durrwachter said, “I was genuinely impressed how the campus came together – students, employees, and alumni – to review the credentials of the candidates, attend meetings, and provide their respective feedback for the committee to consider throughout the entire process. The Haven family will continue to thrive as this next chapter in our history unfolds with a new president.”

For more information on Lock Haven University, visit www.lockhaven.edu, email admissions@lockhaven.edu, or call 570-484-2011.