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LHU president leaving, taking position with PASSHE

Named ‘Senior Advisor to Chancellor for Integration Strategy’

LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven University President Robert Pignatello will be leaving the university on Feb. 5 to take a position with the State System of Higher Education as it goes through a system-wide integration plan.

Pignatello, who became Lock Haven University president in March 2018, has been named “Senior Advisor to the Chancellor for Integration Strategy.”

Dr. Pignatello made the announcement on Friday in a posted message to the “Haven Family.”

He said the state system Board of Governors will name an interim president at Lock Haven University at its February meeting.

The announcement comes as Lock Haven University is going through the integration process, along with Mansfield and Bloomsburg Universities.

In announcing his departure, Pignatello said:

“In my new role I will continue to work on issues related and critical to the success of the integration of the three universities such as work force development, short term degrees/stackable credentials, career ready programs and innovation — both credit and non-credit bearing offerings. As you know, these are areas I have felt for a long time are important for the population in our area and are opportunities for growth and new revenue. This is especially true in the post-pandemic economy. That’s why I have advocated for them to be included in the integration model as a core focus and am looking forward to working on how we accomplish this.

“There is something really special about this institution and the greater community here. Serving as LHU President allowed me to work with some very dedicated and committed individuals who care deeply and are committed to improving the experience of LHU students, their success, and the quality of life in this area. We had great support, Amy and I made good friends, and we will always treasure the opportunity to have been part of The Haven’s rich history, contribute to a better future and working with everyone to do that. I believe launching the retention fund, increasing enrollment and retention, focusing on student mental health and well-being, launching our diversity, equity and inclusion and equity agenda, better coordination of student services, improving relations internally and externally and more have all made a meaningful difference. It truly was a rewarding and unforgettable experience.

“But, the highlight was connecting and engaging with the students. I always learned so much about how we can serve them better by talking to and listening to them. Hearing about their hopes and dreams was an inspiration. It has been a particularly tough time for them as we continue to battle the pandemic. I greatly admire their resilience and fortitude.

“Now, this work continues for me in a different role in support of a key aspect of the integration process that moves us in an important direction that we started here even before integration – toward combining and adding to our outstanding liberal arts foundation, more career-oriented short term credentials for both traditional and post-traditional learners.”

He continued:

“I can’t even begin to describe what a privilege it has been to be your President. Over a relatively short time we have accomplished a great deal. The work we did to improve enrollment, retention, inclusion, student engagement, raise our profile by promoting our brand and value and improve community relations while facing our financial realities stand out for me along with our ongoing efforts to keep us all safe during the pandemic. We can all be proud of that, along with the creation of a culture of respect and transparency and working together on both our progress and our challenges — this academic year most especially. All of this and more bolsters Lock Haven’s position as we partner with Bloomsburg and Mansfield.

“Amy and I have so many unforgettable memories of LHU that will always be in our hearts. It has been a real honor to be part of The Haven’s ongoing legacy and to help our Bald Eagles “Soar Higher.” I am so proud we were able to dedicate the Bald Eagle statue last fall to mark our 150th anniversary as an enduring symbol of this great institution. So I thank all of you-faculty, staff, coaches, our incredible students, alumni, donors, superb executive team, Foundation, Lock Haven City and Clinton County community leaders, our Council of Trustees, Board of Governors, and Chancellor for the support and opportunity to make a difference here.

“This is truly an existential time for LHU, our system, for higher education in general and indeed for our country. I look forward to working with all of you as the integration advances for the future benefit of the students served by Lock Haven and the region to foster growth, efficiency, opportunity and affordability,” he concluded.

Statement from Chancellor Dan Greenstein:

“President Pignatello has done remarkable work leading Lock Haven-moving the needle on student success, making hard choices to shore up its finances, and preparing for an exciting new future as it continues to serve the students of PA-all while guiding the university through a global pandemic with clear vision and resolve. I look forward to tapping his experience, insights, and passion for workforce development, short-term credentials, and adult learners as part of our efforts to redesign our system for the future.”

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