Today: Jun 16, 2024

Student opinions on President Joe departure

Ali FernandFeature Editor

With the departure of President Joe Bertolino, students are wondering what university life will be like next semester. 

“I am disheartened by President Joe leaving, especially since I am about to graduate next year,” Student Government Association President Kyle Thaxton, a junior said.  

President Joe is ending his time at the university after 7 years in leadership. Most students have only been under his leadership during their time as a student. This makes lots of them feel uncertain about the future of the university.  

“You were able to see what he was up to and what he was working on,” psychology major Thomas Robertson, a junior said. “He made himself visible to students, which is something I hope we see from his successor as well.” 

Students like to see a proactive leader who is involved in their community. Many have expressed concerns that they hope continue to be addressed even as new leadership enters. President Joe has often been praised for his presence on campus and at the events different organizations have held. 

“He was active in outings such as our Homecoming game and his social media presence provided an opportunity for students to see him and interact with him more often,” Robertson said.  

SGA ensures that the work of the current leadership will continue through the changes the university is going through. The goals they have set and concerns they have been addressing will not be forgotten. 

“From what I know, we will maintain our current administrative team and the shared systems of governance between faculty and administration will continue without challenge,” Thaxton said.  

The incoming interim president Dr. Dwayne Smith will be commenced this summer on June 1. According to Joe Bertolino’s letter from March 31, both him and Dr. Smith are working together for a smooth transition.  

“I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Dwayne Smith this Saturday at the Juneteenth of Fairfield County Marshall Ball,” Robertson said. “He seemed to have a genuine interest when speaking to me, even with so many more important and more interesting people to talk to.” 

The incoming interim president has already been meeting with students and leaders on campus. Though students have expressed sadness about President Joe’s departure, they are optimistic to what he could bring to the campus.  

“I believe that Dr. Smith is going to bring a new perspective to Southern and he may tackle issues facing our campus community through a different lens than President Joe did,” Thaxton said.  

Different departments at the university will still be working the same way they did under President Joe. The Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development is a department that continues to offer help to students who need it.  

Student leaders also have the opportunity to make sure the university’s transition is smooth for them. SGA asks for their opinions to make sure they are able to continue to work towards a better university. 

“Current student leaders, fill out the surveys that OSILD and SGA send you to ask for your opinion,” Robertson said.  

Students with leadership positions are encouraging other students to get themselves involved on campus. This way, they can ensure that the transition benefits them. 

“Students can look forward to one thing at Southern next semester, getting involved, connect with your elected Student Government representatives, find out if you support how your tuition dollars are being spent,” Robertson said.  

Thaxton said that he feels optimistic about what the new leadership brings. He plans to continue to work on redesigning spaces for student organizations in the student center.  

“I am very confident in the leadership, vision, and experience of our incoming Interim President, Dr. Dwayne Smith, and in President Joe’s ability to successfully lead Stockton University as the institution’s next president,” Thaxton said. 

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