During a special meeting March 3, the Stockton University board of trustees appointed Joe Bertolino as the next president of the school, effective July 1, 2023.
The hiring of Bertolino, who currently serves as the president of Southern Connecticut State University, follows a national search by the board to find a replacement for Harvey Kesselman, who announced last July that he would retire as Stockton’s president at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.
Bertolino brings more than 30 years of experience in higher education and has been in his current role since 2016.
“Dr. Bertolino is drawn to Stockton University’s commitment to creating a caring community dedicated to exceptional teaching, learning and academic excellence,” said Raymond Ciccone, chair of the Stockton University board of trustees.
“I am keenly aware of the challenges facing higher education – especially public regional institutions,” said Bertolino. “I can say with confidence that Stockton is facing those challenges head on and will continue to thrive.”
Bertolino, who was born and raised in Glendora, said he felt like he was retuning home by coming to Stockton, where his mother, Eileen, graduated in 1977.
“Being here now to serve her alma mater as its president is both meaningful and an act of love,” said Bertolino.
Stockton says the search was a thorough and extensive one with the more than 80 applications received that were narrowed down to 12 semifinalists by the Search Committee. That list was then winnowed down to three finalists who came to the campus earlier this winter for in-person interviews.
The campus visits included open public forums and Q&A with faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members. The Stockton community was also asked to give feedback on the three finalists, which was taken into consideration by the board.
In succeeding Kesselman, Bertolino looks to continue the momentum the current president has built over his eight years at the helm – and lifetime of service – at Stockton, which has seen a recent rise in ranking and reputation, including being named one of the Top 100 Public National Universities in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report College Rankings.
In 1971, Kesselman was a member of then-Stockton State College’s first class and worked his way up from a faculty member to holding several administration positions before being tapped to serve as acting president in April 2015, and finally being named president in December 2015.
“My job has always been to make the Stockton degree more valuable every day. I pass the baton to someone who take it to greater heights,” said Kesselman, who handed a metal baton to Bertolino.