For release on Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Contact: Susan Preston
Dr. John J. Petillo Is Inaugurated as Third President of UMDNJ
4/27/05—More than 2,500 people listened to Dr. John J. Petillo today (April 26) describe the academic ceremony to inaugurate him as president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) as an opportunity to "celebrate the power, pride and passion of New Jersey’s higher education and specifically this great university."
The ceremony took place before a maximum-capacity crowd in the Prudential Hall of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
"The wealth of intellectual resources that the higher education community provides and offers the citizens of this state needs to be understood and appreciated more fully," Dr. Petillo told the crowd of academic, political, business and community leaders in the audience. "It is a fundamental obligation of our citizenry...that higher education be a priority. It is a social contract that cannot be ignored, shattered or dismissed without grave consequences."
In tribute to the more than 700 faculty who marched in the academic procession that opened the inauguration of the third president of UMDNJ in its 33-year history, Dr. Petillo said, "This University boasts an enormous wealth of intellectual acumen committed to discovery, teaching and caring. For too long (its) unknown richness became misinterpreted and misrepresented as greatness wanting. Clearly, the
opportunities of the reorganization process awakened our greatest resources; namely our faculty...who knew well the depth and comprehensiveness of their work (here)."
As part of his remarks, Dr. Petillo exhorted the University family to be proud of the institution. "It is pride in whom we are and who we can become that will distinguish this University."
He also reaffirmed the University’s commitment to serving all of the state’s residents. "Today, I clearly and unequivocally reaffirm this University’s service to the poor, the underserved and the uninsured. We cannot and will not allow the social contract on which this University was founded to be eroded...our campuses will always be there to served the most vulnerable.
"It is this passion for caring (throughout our clinical enterprise)," he said, "that will have us continue opening our doors and hearts to all. The customs, cultures and names may be different, but our obligation and focus for clinical care will not wane."
The opening of the formal ceremony was presided over by Ms. Vivian Sanks King, co-chair of the Inauguration Committee and UMDNJ vice president of legal management. Ms. Sonia Delgado, interim chair of the UMDNJ Board of Trustees, delivered greetings and congratulatory remarks on behalf of the University’s 10-member Board of Trustees.
New Jersey Acting Governor Richard J. Codey delivered the keynote address.
Also delivering congratulatory remarks were U.S. Representative Donald Payne, Newark Mayor Sharpe James, and Dr. George Pruitt, president of Thomas Edison State College and chairman of the New Jersey Presidents’ Council.
In addition to the faculty, marching in the academic procession were members of the Inaugural Assembly, who represented the four-pronged mission of the University--research, education, clinical care and community service; the deans of UMDNJ’s eight schools; current and former members of the UMDNJ Board of Trustees; the University administration; members of the Master Educators Guild; and student, faculty and alumni representatives from each school.
Also in the procession were three former governors of New Jersey; the senior leadership of the New Jersey State Legislature; and 16 presidents of New Jersey colleges and universities. Dr. Stuart D. Cook, who served as president of the university from 1998 to 2004, is the grand marshal of the procession.
Dr. R. Michael Gallagher, co-chair of the Inauguration Committee and dean of the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine introduced the representatives of the four constituencies of the university presenting formal greetings to Dr. Petillo. They were: on behalf of the students, Claudia Mosquero from UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School;
the alumni, Dr. Stephen Scheinthal, president of the alumni association of the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine; the faculty, Dr. Frederick Lepore, from UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; and the staff, Lorraine Williams, administrative analyst at UMDNJ University Behavioral HealthCare.
The Honorable James Zazzali, associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, delivered the oath of office to Dr. Petillo. Ms. Delgado presented the University mace and chain of office to the president.
Dr. Petillo was named to the presidency by the UMDNJ Board of Trustees on November 23, 2004. He had served as acting president since last July 1.
He was formally inaugurated as president of an institution that comprises the state’s only three medical schools, only dental school, and only graduate school of public health, a school of health related professions and a school of nursing. The University also owns UMDNJ-University Hospital in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide network of mental health services. The University has campuses in Newark, Piscataway, New Brunswick, Stratford, Camden and Scotch Plains.