President Patrick F. Leahy Ed.D., and Communication faculty member Matt Harmon invited Chair of the Board of Trustees Jeana M. Piscatelli to their weekly “Monmouth Mondays” podcast on Monday, Nov. 2. The episode detailed Piscatelli’s rise as the first woman in University history to obtain the position.
Piscatelli joined the board of trustees in 2010 after being an active participant and Chair of the Leon Hess Business School Business Council. “I was overjoyed to take part in [the Business Council], and served for several years before serving as Vice Chair,” Piscatelli said. “Actually, I had the good fortune of being Vice Chair to two Chairs before taking on the role of Chair. I had wonderful role models to work alongside, as well as everyone else on the board. I see us all as equals and it’s a great group of individuals to work with.”
The most important relationship to a University president, besides his or her spouse, is their relationship with the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Leahy explained.
“Where Board Chairs and presidents can work really well together, that means great opportunities for that institution,” Leahy said. “You can imagine if they don’t work very well together, how challenging that can be.”
A woman securing the role of Chair is a win for every other alumni and female student that’s currently enrolled at the University, Piscatelli explained. “We attribute so much of our success in knocking down those doors by the women that come before us and the women that led by example.”
Leahy wants the University to be a leader in the area of gender inclusivity, he explained. The Board of Trustees recently met for the 263rd time, the first time a woman chaired the meeting.
“I think it’s a great source of pride for me, personally.” Leahy said. “I’m just really grateful that I happened to be the president when that happened. It’s such a great example to all of our students. Our men and women, but particularly our 66 percent of the student body who are women. It’s really important that they see women in leadership positions.”
A University alumni, Piscatelli, considers it “wonderful” to have alumni represented on the Board of Trustees. “But that does not mean you have to be an alumni,” Piscatelli said. “We have so many long standing friends of the University that serve on our board. I still look to many of our former chairs that participate on the Board, and I turn to them to get that history and that perspective.”
It is important to have everyone represented, Piscatelli explained. “You want to have diversity of thought, age, gender, race, and just have a community where you’re collaborating together, working towards the same end to help the university advance.”
Piscatelli accepted the role during the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, a decision she jokes to have “drawn the short straw,” in regards to.
“No one was vying for this role during a pandemic, but we’re all thrust into this situation at the same time and it’s not ideal for anyone,” Piscatelli said, “I think [it’s a success] as long as you have the right intentions and you work together in coordination with the president. We’re just here in support of the president and his cabinet and we just want to continue to provide that while they work through the heavy lifting of the day to day.”
“We are very fortunate to have President Leahy and his cabinet, [as well as] the staff and the faculty that we do on campus,” Piscatelli said. “Their priority is the safety and health and wellness of the students and the community of the university, which is first and foremost.”
Piscatelli still remains an active member of the Business Council. “It’s near and dear to my heart,” Piscatelli said. “I still mentor students of the business school. I will always have an open phone and open email policy for students, so if they want to run through a resume together or just talk through some opportunity, I’m happy to do that and provide some help anyway I can.”
PHOTO COURTESY of Anthony DePrimo