President Pignatello's Bio


Dr. Robert M. Pignatello was selected as the 15th president of Lock Haven University in March 2018.  Prior to joining Lock Haven University, Dr. Pignatello spent over two decades in senior executive and administrative positions within higher education.  In these capacities, he applied his extensive experience in resource management, strategic planning, shared governance, evidence-based decision making, intergovernmental relations, and communications in leading change efforts to advance institutional missions and student success.

From February 2016 until his appointment at Lock Haven, Dr. Pignatello served as the senior vice president for finance and administration and chief operating officer of Hunter College, a flagship institution of The City University of New York (CUNY) system.  There, he managed operations for seven campus locations in Manhattan serving more than 23,000 students and 1,800 full- and part-time faculty, and oversaw an annual operating budget of nearly $170 million. In addition, he oversaw continuing education and other enrollment functions.

Prior to joining Hunter College, Dr. Pignatello spent 18 years as vice president and, ultimately, senior vice president and chief operating officer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, also part of the CUNY system.  During his tenure there, he led a decade-long campus planning effort leading to the construction of the college’s state-of-the-art $650 million campus, which opened in 2011 on Manhattan’s west side.  He also worked with faculty leadership and other senior executives to help transform John Jay to a senior college focused on baccalaureate degrees, graduate studies, and research, and on enhancing student experiences, engagement, and outcomes.

At John Jay, Dr. Pignatello helped develop and successfully implement the college’s strategic plan by aligning resources with objectives and creating strategies and accountability for outcomes. His efforts included improving academic and student services, expanding shared governance and engagement, raising new revenue, fostering alliances with external groups, and reducing the costs of textbooks through a virtual store, which ultimately became a system-wide model. He also developed a strategic human resources program that introduced employee engagement methods, expanded the use of instructional and administrative technologies, implemented new public safety measures and campus emergency plans, and worked with faculty and campus leaders to make collective, evidence-based decisions.  He also served as an adjunct instructor of policy analysis in the college’s Master of Public Administration program.  He began at John Jay in 1994, as director of government, alumni affairs, and communications, and senior adviser to the president.

Across his diverse leadership roles within the CUNY system, Dr. Pignatello was widely regarded as a thought leader, earning recognition and awards for various initiatives, such as the virtual book store, which continues to save CUNY students hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.  He also served on numerous CUNY task forces and committees focused on increasing intra-campus cooperation and collaboration, and improving administrative efficiencies.

Outside of his higher education experience, Dr. Pignatello has also served as council member, deputy mayor, and mayor of the Township of Verona, New Jersey; held an administrative position within the Essex County Sheriff’s Department in Newark, New Jersey; and worked as a legislative assistant in the New Jersey State Senate.

Dr. Pignatello holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and public administration from Montclair State University, a Master of Public Administration degree from Rutgers University Graduate School, and a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership - Higher Education from Saint Peter’s University. His doctoral research focused on the connection between senior leadership and employee engagement at colleges and universities.

Recreationally, Dr. Pignatello enjoys singing and songwriting, playing guitar, cycling, hiking, traveling, cooking, gardening, and he is an avid baseball fan.

Contact Us

Office of the President

Gwen Bechdel, Executive Assistant to the President
399 Ulmer Hall, Lock Haven University
(570) 484-2001

Contact Our Admissions Office

8:00am to 4:00pm Monday-Friday
(570) 484-2027

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