Board Names Avaltroni Ninth FDU President
April 26, 2023 — The Fairleigh Dickinson University Board of Trustees appointed long-time FDU faculty member and administrator Michael J. Avaltroni as the ninth president in the institution’s history, effective immediately. Dr. Avaltroni had been serving as interim president since January.
“Dr. Avaltroni continues to impress the Board of Trustees and the entire University community,” said Board Chair Robert J. Zatta. “Since becoming interim president — and actually far before that in his previous roles — Dr. Avaltroni has made a significant impact and inspired many with his intelligence, passion, empathy and his unrelenting drive and determination to help this institution excel and to provide the support and the education our students need to make their dreams come true. He knows this institution very well, he is aware of the challenges facing FDU and indeed all of higher education, and he has the experience and ability to make a powerful difference. I can think of no better individual to lead the next chapter in the University’s storied history.”
“Since I have taken the role of interim president in January, I have gained an even deeper admiration for the FDU community and in particular our very determined and talented students, faculty and staff,” Avaltroni said. “I am deeply honored to be appointed president and I promise to devote everything I have to the advancement and success of this extraordinary institution. FDU has provided incredible opportunities for students from all walks of life for 80 years now and I am certain the best is still to come.”
Dr. Avaltroni has a strong personal connection with the institution and has forged a deep passion for FDU, first as an undergraduate student and later as a faculty member and administrator. He graduated in 1999 with a B.S. in chemistry, summa cum laude. He is the first FDU graduate to serve as the institution’s president.
As interim president, he led many important early initiatives and held a series of town halls, listening sessions and other campus events to engage community members and gain insights from students, faculty and staff on issues facing the University and potential actions to strengthen the University.
With widespread input, the planning document titled “FDU Will Soar” was distributed throughout the community, and provides the basis for development efforts across the University, focusing on key areas such as recruitment and retention, and philanthropy and collaborations.
Driving all the plans — those imminent and those longer term — is a renewed emphasis on putting students first and on prioritizing those items and initiatives that will most significantly and positively impact students. Building from this emphasis, a new retention plan was developed and a new position was created of Chief Student Experience Officer for each New Jersey campus.
FDU received a major gift to help fund a new program called “Transforming College Campuses” (TCC), an initiative to support student psychological well-being. The gift will provide fellowship opportunities to FDU graduate and undergraduate students.
FDU successfully concluded the capital campaign “One University Many Dreams,” which raised approximately $90 million, easily surpassing its original goal of $75 million. The University will soon introduce a new fund-raising campaign focusing exclusively on raising money to help students have access to and better afford an FDU education.
Among other plans being developed include establishing “FDU Health” by leveraging existing programs in nursing, allied health, pharmacy and health sciences and psychology and counseling, as well as creating an FDU Graduate Center with flexible options for students to pursue graduate education and degrees online, on campus and through blended delivery models.
Dr. Avaltroni also was a very visible presence during the FDU Knights Cinderella run in the NCAA Tournament, as he traveled to Columbus, Ohio and led the cheers for the Knights who became only the second No. 16 seed ever to defeat a No. 1 seeded-team. He was widely quoted in regional and national media explaining the significance of the historic run and the connection of the team to the identity and story of FDU, a story defined by students who when given an opportunity, seize the moment, transform themselves and often times change their world.
After graduating from FDU, Dr. Avaltroni completed an M.A. in chemistry in 2001 and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 2003, both from Princeton University. He joined FDU in 2003, serving as a faculty member and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences; he was instrumental in the process of creating the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Dr. Avaltroni took over as interim dean in 2012 and was appointed permanently to the position of dean in 2013.
Dr. Avaltroni transitioned to the position of provost and senior vice president for academic affairs in January 2022. As provost, he led the academic affairs subcommittee of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Advisory Council; laid the groundwork for new community college partnerships; presided over the development of the Hispanic Center, coordinated the formation of a new academic leadership team, and created the Transformational Excellence Awards to honor faculty and staff who have gone beyond the ordinary to serve FDU students.