Capuano inaugurated as FDU marks 75th year

James Neidhardt

News Editor


Christopher A. Capuano was inaugurated as Fairleigh Dickinson University’s eighth president on Sept. 27, 2017. The inauguration took place on the Library Lawn of the Florham Campus, and coincided with the university’s seventy-fifth anniversary.

Among those who attended the inauguration were presidents and officials from other colleges, as well as students, faculty and staff of FDU. Former FDU presidents Sheldon Drucker and Francis Mertz also attended, as well as Capuano’s family, including his father, who emigrated from Italy to the United States after the second world war.

Patrick Zenner, chair of FDU’s board of trustees, welcomed the guests to the event, and described Capuano as “no stranger to this institution. He has devoted most of his professional career to serving FDU and all of its students.”

“We’re very familiar with his keen intellect, his incredible work ethic, his unrelenting drive, and most of all, his tremendous passion for this University, and for our students,” Zenner said.

Representing the University student body was Akshay Patel, a junior biology major from the Metropolitan Campus and president of the Student Government Association at that campus. Patel congratulated Capuano on behalf of the university’s students.

“Ever since its founding in 1942, Fairleigh Dickinson has been a center of leadership, character, and drive, and President Capuano’s ready to continue this legacy,” said Patel. “His passion for growth and student success are going to be the driving forces that will place Fairleigh Dickinson on a new level of prestige and excellence.”

University Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Gillian Small spoke of the challenges facing higher education institutions, and then said, “To face these challenges and goals, we are fortunate to have as our president a longstanding member of the FDU community, and someone who is extremely ambitious for this institution: Dr. Chris Capuano.”

Small went on to say she has witnessed in Capuano many of the “various qualities needed to be a great university president. In addition to having sound ideas and being able to carry them through, you need to be able to listen to others, be flexible, think outside the box, be forward-thinking, collaborative, and perhaps most important, have a good sense of humor.”

After Small’s remarks as well as those of Vincent Forlenza, the CEO of BD, Zenner invested Capuano as president, placing around his neck the President’s Medallion. “With this installation today, we officially recognize and commemorate your leadership. We charge you with the responsibility of guiding the institution, and confer upon you the authority necessary for that task,” he said.

Capuano then gave his inaugural address, in which he shared his own story as well as the university’s. “Seventy-five years ago this month, in a once-abandoned castle in Rutherford, N.J., an exciting educational experiment began.”

He spoke of Peter Sammartino, the founder of FDU, and celebrated the history of the university. Then he discussed the university’s position today, optimistically asserting that the university would thrive amidst the many challenges facing higher education.

“At FDU, we are educational pioneers, innovators and entrepreneurs, and we will actively shape our fate,” he said. “We will honor our past, while building a brighter future.”

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