May 7, 2021 – As the pandemic begins to subside in the U.S. and organizations collectively begin to get back on their feet, colleges and universities across the country are opening searches that, if all goes to plan, will allow high-profile leaders to take them into a new era of fundraising, digitalization, sports and, increasingly the case, globalization – not to mention a pandemic and post-pandemic era. One national recruiting outfit, AGB Search, has become a magnet for such assignments. Most recently, the Washington, D.C.-based recruiter placed Robert Pignatello as the first senior vice president for university operations at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. (FDU). Consultant Robert Holyer led the assignment. Dr. Pignatello will begin at FDU on June 1.
“This is a key appointment and one that will have a major impact on our future growth and development,” said university president Christopher A. Capuano. “The senior vice president for university operations will be responsible for many non-academic matters on the New Jersey campuses, including facilities, student affairs, athletics, student counseling and health services, and public safety, to name a few.” Dr. Pignatello brings to FDU an impressive range of experiences in higher education, said Dr. Capuano, “and I am confident that he will make many valuable contributions to our community.”
The senior vice president for university operations will be a member of the senior leadership team and will report directly to the president.
Dr. Pignatello brings to FDU extensive leadership experience as a senior executive in higher education. He most recently served as senior advisor to the chancellor of the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education for Integration Strategy, a pivotal position in the plan to merge smaller institutions within that state. Prior to that, he served three years as the president of Lock Haven University, where he helped build the university’s profile and highlighted its role and impact in the region.
“Dr. Pignatello in particular possesses excellent financial and resource management expertise, and strong interpersonal and communication skills,” said FDU. “He has prioritized institutional change efforts designed to advance academic vision and student success; enhanced an array of teaching and learning environments; built and strengthened stakeholder relationships; fostered professional communities of shared governance; implemented strategic planning initiatives; and advocated for evidence-based decision making among faculty and staff.”
Dr. Pignatello has served in other prominent roles, including as senior vice president for finance and administration, and chief operating officer, at Hunter College (City University of New York), and senior vice president for finance and administration, and chief operating officer, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York). In addition, he has had significant experience as a local elected official and government-relations representative.
Dr. Pignatello holds a doctorate in education in higher education leadership and management from Saint Peter’s University, 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.
AGB Search, which specializes in higher education leadership, conducts searches for college and university presidents, chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, university system heads and CEOs of coordinating boards and related foundations. The firm was founded by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) in 2010.
Cultivating the Higher Education Leadership Pipeline
In this brand new episode of ‘Talent Talks,’ Hunt Scanlon Media host Rob Adams is joined by Rod McDavis, managing principal of AGB Search and Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor Emerita of the University at Albany. In this podcast, Dr. McDavis and Dr. Zimpher share recent trends in higher education leadership including diversity and how AGB’s Institute for Leadership & Governance is changing the game. Listen now!
Dr. Holyer joined AGB Search in 2011. He has assisted in nearly 50 executive searches for both public and private institutions, with over 50 percent for repeat clients. His experience covers a wide range of executive positions including those of president, provost, dean of arts and sciences, dean of business, dean of communications, dean of education, dean of health and human services, and dean of libraries, as well as several vice-presidential searches in advancement, enrollment management and student affairs.
Prior to joining AGB Search, Dr. Holyer served 35 years at five different institutions of higher education, as faculty member, department chair, director, provost and acting president. He has written, spoken, and consulted on issues of curriculum development and assessment, planning, faculty development and personnel issues, and academic affairs staffing. A major part of his work as a provost was devoted to improving search and hiring procedures and led or was involved in more than 150 searches for faculty, staff, and senior administrators.
Earlier this year, AGB Search opened another assignment for Fairleigh Dickinson University, seeking the university’s next vice president of student affairs. This administrator has overall responsibility for providing leadership, management, and supervision for the student affairs division as it works to respond to student needs across three North American campuses, with a pronounced focus upon those in New Jersey.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media