Stockton University appoints Southern Connecticut State’s Joe Bertolino as next president

After seven months of a national search, Stockton University’s board of trustees has named a successor for President Harvey Kesselman, who will retire at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.

Joe Bertolino, with more than 30 years of experience in higher education, will become the next president of the Galloway-based institution on July 1.

Joe Bertolino. (Stockton University)

“I am keenly aware of the challenges facing higher education — especially public regional institutions. I can say with confidence that Stockton is facing those challenges head-on and will continue to thrive,” Bertolino said.

Bertolino is the current president of Southern Connecticut State University. Prior to joining Southern in 2016, he held roles as president of Lyndon State College in Vermont, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at Queens College/City University of New York, and dean for community development at Barnard College in New York.

“Dr. Bertolino is drawn to Stockton University’s commitment to creating a caring community dedicated to exceptional teaching, learning and academic excellence,” Raymond Ciccone, chair of the Stockton University board, said, following its unanimous vote to hire Bertolino.

Stockton has seen a rise in ranking and reputation in recent years, including being named one of the Top 100 Public National Universities in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report College Rankings.

Born and raised in Glendora, Bertolino said he felt he was returning “home” in joining Stockton, from which his mother, Eileen Bertolino, graduated in 1977. “Being here now to serve her alma mater as its president is both meaningful and an act of love.”

The search for Stockton University’s sixth president has been thorough and extensive, and the Search Committee was committed to an open process, Ciccone said. Over 80 applications were received, which the Search Committee narrowed down to 12 semifinalists. Three candidates were chosen from that group to come to campus for in-person interviews in late January and early February.

“My job has always been to make the Stockton degree more valuable every day. I pass the baton to someone who will take it to greater heights,” Kesselman said, handing a metal baton to Bertolino on Friday.

Bertolino will succeed Kesselman, who is retiring as president after eight years. Kesselman is unique in the history of Stockton. As a member of the first class at then-Stockton State College in 1971, he continued on to become a faculty member, and has held several administrative positions, including provost and executive vice president. He began serving as acting president in April 2015 and was named president in December 2015.