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Sacred Heart University names interim president

By Sacred Heart University

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Fairfield, CT - Dr. Anthony J. Cernera has informed the Board of Trustees that after several months of reflection, he intends to resign as president of Sacred Heart University so that he can pursue his work as a professor and his leadership roles in national and international Catholic educational organizations. The Board has appointed Dr. John J. Petillo, dean of the John F. Welch College of Business, as interim president effective immediately.

Petillo, who has been at the University since March 2009, previously was chancellor at Seton Hall University and held several executive positions at companies including BlueCross BlueShield and the Newark Alliance in New Jersey.

“I look forward to working with the faculty in an aggressive collegial manner,” Petillo said. “I believe it’s vital for us to focus on the quality of education we provide and continue to strengthen Sacred Heart as a Catholic university.”

Chairman of the Board, Bishop William E. Lori said he was confident Petillo would continue the tradition of excellence that has characterized Sacred Heart since its founding.

Vice Chairman James T. Morley praised Cernera for his 22 years of dedication to the University and all that he had accomplished and said the Board wished him well for his efforts.

The school continues to break records for the number of applications it receives each year, and it welcomed its largest freshman class ever in 2010. More than 6,000 undergraduates and graduate students make it the second-largest Catholic university in New England.
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Dr. John J. Petillo has served as dean of Sacred Heart University's John Welch College of Business since March 2009, where he has worked to revise the College's master's program and develop plans for new facilities.

Prior to that, he 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 Sarbanes-Oxley protocols for the university.

Dr. Petillo's other professional 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 and chief executive officer of Seton Hall University and Immaculate Conception Seminary; chancellor for Administration for the Archdiocese of Newark and deputy director of Catholic Community Services.

In addition, Dr. Petillo has 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. He served a three-year stint as a visiting professor at Rutgers University's Graduate School of Public Administration, teaching an executive program course on leadership.

Dr. Petillo holds a BA in Classical Languages and an MA in Counseling from Seton Hall University; a professional diploma in Counselor Education from Fordham University; an MPA 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.

He chairs the finance committee of the Wachovia 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; chairman of the New Newark Foundation and the Essex County College Foundation.

Dr. Petillo is married and his wife is a board-certified internist. They have a daughter.

About Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University, the second-largest Catholic university in New England, offers more than 40 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs on its main campus in Fairfield, Connecticut, and satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland. More than 6,000 students attend the University’s four colleges: Arts & Sciences; Education & Health Professions; University College; and the AACSB-accredited John F. (Jack) Welch College of Business. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its guides “Best 373 Colleges: 2011,” “Best in the Northeast” and “Best 300 Business Schools: 2011.” U.S. News & World Report ranks SHU among the best master’s universities in the North in its annual “America’s Best Colleges” publication. As one of just 23 institutions nationally, SHU is a member of the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ (AAC&U) Core Commitments Leadership Consortium, in recognition of its core, “The Human Journey.” SHU fields 31 division I athletic teams, and has an award-winning program of community service. www.sacredheart.edu

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