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Bertolino Taking a Pay Cut

Berolino returns March 19-20

By Eric Blaisdell
On March 8, 2012

Joe Bertolino will be making $33,000 less next year to become Lyndon State College's president.

He currently makes $175,000 as the vice president of enrollment management and student affairs at Queens College of the City University of New York. Bertolino signed a two-year contract that will pay him $142,000 per year plus benefits as LSC's president.

"The truth of the matter is obviously that had to figure into my decision," said Bertolino by phone. "I knew coming into this process that if I took this job I would be taking a pay cut, which is unusual for a president, especially in comparison to presidencies around the country."

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the median total compensation for college presidents in 2009-2010 was $375,442.

"It's not about money in the end," Bertolino said. "That is really what it comes down to.  I'm coming to Lyndon because I love to be at Lyndon. Lyndon is a great place and there are great opportunities there. I loved the faculty and the staff and the students."

He went on to say that the cost of living is less in Vermont than it is in his current residence of New York and that Vermont State College Chancellor Tim Donovan was upfront about the salary scale. Bertolino said the Chancellor told him during the initial interview that if the pay was a problem then they should not waste each other's time. He decided to move forward with the interview process placing more importance on fit than on finances.

"This is a decision that I have made and I have made it comfortably and I've made it because I know it is the right decision," he said.

Another factor that went into Bertolino's decision was taking a job in Vermont and being so far away from his partner Bil Leipold, who is an associate vice president at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

"I've arranged that we will probably try to travel back and forth every other week," he said. "We'll figure it out. We've been together 20 years so I'm not too worried about it. Of course it will be difficult, but we are actually in a commuter relationship now. Of course it's only 70 miles, not 400."

Coming from New York where space is a premium, Bertolino says the president's house is too big for what he needs to live in and has an idea of what to do with the extra space.

"My plan is essentially to live upstairs. What we will do is set up the downstairs so that it can be used for events and functions for the community," he said stressing that whatever changes are made to the house will be "cost efficient."

When Bertolino returns to campus he will walk through the house again with Tom Archer, the physical plant director, to see what changes can be made.

As well as checking on the living arrangement during his next visit, Bertolino will put together a team consisting of staff, administration, faculty, and students to help with the move.

"A small group that could help me with the transition, advise me, give me a sense of what needs to be done now and the best ways to move forward as I come into Lyndon and what I can be doing over the next three or four months before I even start," he said. "I'm in the throes now of developing a 120 day plan for my first couple of months so that I can lay out what I need to do and where I need to be and who I need to meet."

Bertolino is doing all of this while still maintaining his job at QC as well as finding his own replacement and while it is still early in the process, he admits that juggling it all might get a bit complicated.

"It'll probably be a bit challenging," he said. "It can probably be a bit overwhelming because you are in two places. I'm not too worried about it, it comes with the territory.  I've done transitions before and I'm particularly excited about this one."

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