About President Joe Bertolino

In July 2016, Joe Bertolino, Ed.D., was named the 12th President of Southern Connecticut State University, a public institution of 10,300 students in New Haven, Conn. President Joe, as he is affectionately known, has been a social justice educator for 28 years, and is passionate about student success and access to higher education.

Joe Bertolino with the Go Owls sign with students

During his short time at the helm of Southern, he has outlined the following priorities: raising the University’s profile, expanding community outreach and partnerships, strategic enrollment (recruitment and retention) and streamlining students’ paths to earning a degree.

Early initiatives include a new branding campaign that is reintroducing the University to the region and beyond, the creation of the University’s first comprehensive enrollment management plan and the creation of new degree programs, including a degree in Utilities Management and the first Doctorate of Social Work program in New England. Additionally, the University has partnered with the local community colleges and initiated new community partnerships at multiple levels to establish Southern as a good neighbor.

Joe Bertolino during Day of Service with student volunteers

Administrative leadership in higher education has long been Dr. Bertolino’s passion. From 2012-16, he served as President of Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vermont, where he instituted a plan of  “Moving Forward,” reintroducing Lyndon State as “the College” of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Previously, he served as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Queens College/City University of New York from 2004-2012.

President Joe Bertolino talks with a student

Dr. Bertolino is an author, lecturer, and teacher, having presented hundreds of programs to tens of thousands of students at over 600 colleges and conferences nationwide. He has authored numerous articles and book chapters, and is the co-author of Let The Games Begin, A Guide For Peer Mentors (2012). His research interests include student immigration (with an emphasis on undocumented students/Dreamers), campus community engagement, campus social change, leadership development, and social justice.

Joe Bertolino splashed by water

He has been recognized with numerous outstanding professional awards.  President Joe is a member of seven different national honor societies including Omicron Delta Kappa and Golden Key.  The American College Personnel Association presented him with the prestigious Annuit Coeptis Award twice as an outstanding new professional and as an outstanding senior professional.

His undergraduate alma mater, the University of Scranton, presented him with the 2011 Frank O’Hara Award in Education—the highest award given jointly by the University and the National Alumni Society.  Most recently, President Bertolino has been recognized by the Southern Connecticut Urban League with the 2017 Diversity Award.  In 2017, Delta Sigma Phi presented him with the H. Harvey Hebert Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to the Fraternity, one of the highest awards bestowed by the organization.

President Joe Bertolino speaks at New Student Convocation

Dr. Bertolino has served on numerous national and local boards including the American Red Cross, the YMCA of the Pines, Catamount Arts, Northeast Vermont Boys & Girls Club, Northeast Vermont Youth Services, Northeast Vermont Regional Hospital, The Samara Fund and the St. Johnsbury Development Corporation, just to name a few.  President Joe was appointed by Vermont Governor, Peter Shumlin to serve on the New England Board of Higher Education.  Currently, President Bertolino serves on the boards of the American Association of State Colleges & Universities; the American Council on Education (ACE) Council of Fellows; the American Association of University Administrators, the American Association of University Women, New Haven Mayors Economic Development Committee, New Haven Promise, the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA, and the New Haven International Festival of Arts.  

President Joe Bertolino presents Michael Phelps with a Southern sweatshirt

He earned his doctorate in higher education administration and organizational leadership from Columbia University, Teachers College in 2003, a master’s in social work from Rutgers University in 1990, and a bachelor of science in psychology and sociology from the University of Scranton in 1986.

Dr. Bertolino lives with his partner of 25 years, Bil Leipold, Ed.D., and their three dogs, Wanamassa (a Shih Tzu), Willoughby (a Llasa-Cocker Spaniel Mix) and Woodlock (a Corgi).  Together, Joe and Bil have twelve godchildren and two grandsons.