SHU to Celebrate the Presidential Inauguration of Dr. John J. Petillo

News Story: September 1, 2011

Under the banner “A Time for New Beginnings,” the inauguration of John J. Petillo, Ph.D, as the sixth president of Sacred Heart University, will take place on Wednesday, September 21. The ceremony will follow the University induction of the class of 2015 in the William H. Pitt Health and Recreation Center on the University’s Fairfield campus. Later that day, an inauguration mass will be celebrated in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, followed by a reception for the campus community.

Dr. Petillo, former dean of the Jack Welch College of Business and past chancellor and CEO of Seton Hall University, served as interim president of the University for five months before he was named as the new president in March after an extensive national search.

“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. No one could equal his expertise and vision,” said James T. Morley, University trustee and chairman of the search committee, at the time of the announcement. “We believe Dr. Petillo will articulate, develop and implement a clear strategic plan and vision for Sacred Heart University and build on our tradition of excellence.”

Dr. Petillo has already immersed himself in his new role and is overseeing exciting changes at the University. Many of these are included in the University’s five year strategic plan, which focuses on academic excellence and distinctiveness, learning and living outside the classroom, facilities and infrastructure, and financial strength.

“Sacred Heart is blessed with a remarkable and hopeful energy. I look forward to continuing my work with the faculty, staff and students as we move into the 21st century with a vision that is founded on our Catholic intellectual tradition,” Dr. Petillo said. “I believe we must be student-centered, results-driven and firmly focused on the quality of education we provide. We must also continue to strengthen Sacred Heart as a Catholic university.”

In addition to his experience at Sacred Heart and Seton Hall, Dr. Petillo was president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, where he implemented a series of reforms relating to transparency and accountability, including the adoption of the Sarbanes-Oxley protocols for the university. 

Other profession experience includes serving as president and chief executive officer of the Newark Alliance, a private-public partnership dedicated to enhancing Newark’s quality of life; regional president of First Union Insurance Services; chief executive officer of The Tribus Companies; chairman, president and chief executive officer of CareAdvantage, Inc.; president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; chancellor for Administration for the Archdiocese of Newark and deputy director of Catholic Community Services.

Dr. Petillo has also been a consultant to several healthcare-related initiatives, including the development of free-standing medical facilities and the creation of an insurance brokerage organization specializing in administrative services. In addition, he served a three-year term as a visiting professor at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Public Administration, teaching an executive program course on leadership.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in classical languages and a master’s degree in counseling from Seton Hall University; a professional diploma in counselor education from Fordham University; a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers; a Master of Divinity degree in pastoral theology from the Darlington School of Theology; and a Ph.D in counseling and personnel services from Fordham. He received honorary doctor of humane letters degrees from St. Peter’s College in New Jersey, Universidad Apec in the Dominican Republic and South Korea’s Kyoung-Gi University.

Dr. Petillo chairs the finance committee of the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and is a member of the board of Christ the King High School in New York. Dr. Petillo’s previous board memberships include vice chairman of the St. Joseph’s Healthcare System; and chairman of the New Newark Foundation and the Essex County College Foundation.

He and his wife, a board-certified internist, have one daughter.

Throughout the coming academic year, Sacred Heart will continue to celebrate “A Time for New Beginnings” with a variety of inaugural events. These range from a student gala, an alumni reception, and a breakfast during Family Weekend to a Presidential Inaugural Lecture Series, concerts, and roundtable discussions.