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Fairfield's Sacred Heart Names New President

Dr. John J. Petillo can finally remove the “interim” from his title. After a five-month search, Sacred Heart University appointed Petillo its full-time president on Monday. Petillo had been filling the spot on a temporary basis since Dr. Anthony J. Cernera retired in October.

“I am delighted to accept this responsibility at a school I have known for so long and whose mission I admire so much,” Petillo said. “Sacred Heart is blessed with a remarkable and hopeful energy. I look forward to working with the faculty in the spirit of collegiality and transparency as we move Sacred Heart University forward into the 21st century with a vision that is founded on our Catholic intellectual tradition.”

The university’s board of trustees chose Petillo by a unanimous vote after a nationwide search. Before taking over as interim president, Petillo was the dean of SHU’s John F. Welch College of Business. He also previously worked as chancellor and chief executive officer of Seton Hall University and Immaculate Conception Seminary and was president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

“It became apparent from our own efforts and the feedback we received from many sources that Dr. Petillo was the strongest candidate for the job,” said James T. Morley Jr., a university trustee and chairman of the search committee. “No one could equal the expertise and vision of Dr. Petillo. We believe he will articulate, develop and implement a clear strategic plan and vision for Sacred Heart University and build on our tradition of excellence.”

Petillo pledged to focus on “student-centered, results-driven” education for Sacred Heart. He also emphasized the need to keep Sacred Heart, New England’s second-largest Catholic university, “strengthened” as a religious school.

“I am very pleased that John has been appointed president of Sacred Heart University,” said the Most Rev. William Lori, bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport and chairman of the board of trustees. “He has a wide range of experience in both Catholic higher education and the corporate world, and I believe he will strengthen and enhance the Catholic mission and identity of Sacred Heart University as we move forward in the face of new challenges and opportunities.”

What do you think of Sacred Heart’s choice for its new president? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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