Capuano Steps Down, Avaltroni Named Interim President

December 21, 2022 — In a message to the University community today, Christopher A. Capuano announced that he will step down as president of the University, effective December 31, 2022.   

In a subsequent announcement, the Board of Trustees appointed University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael J. Avaltroni to serve as interim president beginning on January 1. Board Chair Robert J. Zatta added that the Board will take the “proper time to deliberate carefully about appointing a permanent successor.”   

Passing the Torch

Capuano, who has served as president since 2016, cited the fact that the University was close to completing its next strategic plan and said he felt new leadership should have the opportunity to finalize the plan and then fully execute the plan from start to finish.  

“While I am very excited about many of the goals and initiatives that were identified during our planning process and I know that our plan will be successful, it has become apparent to me that the next stage of our evolution and the time periods outlined in the plan require a longer commitment from leadership than I am prepared to give at this stage of my career,” he said.   

“A good leader not only knows when to lead, but also when to step aside and let someone else lead, and for me that time has come.” He added, though, that he will “continue to be available to assist the Board and the leadership of this great institution in every way possible.”   

Zatta thanked the president for his many accomplishments. “The University is grateful to Dr. Capuano not only for the many contributions as president, but for his exceptional service to the University over the past 37 years, including 23 years as a member of the faculty, and for his unwavering commitment to its students, faculty, alumni, and rich traditions.” Capuano also held various administrative positions including University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, vice provost for international affairs and director of the University’s School of Psychology.   

Under Capuano’s leadership, the University has undergone a comprehensive strategic planning process that led to significant developments including the restructuring of colleges and schools, the creation of more centers of excellence, and the successful progress of the largest capital campaign in the University’s history. In addition, he directed the implementation of a major tuition reduction initiative and led the University through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. During his tenure, the University achieved widespread recognition, including reaching #14 in Best Value Schools in the North region of the United States in U.S. News & World Report’s collegiate rankings.  

Capuano added, “I want to thank all those who have supported me through the years, especially our incredibly talented faculty and tremendously devoted staff, and of course our determined and inspired students and magnificent alumni. If I was fortunate enough to have made any contributions to the illustrious history of this great institution, it was due to your collaborative work and dedication. I am grateful for everything you have done for me and for our institution.”   

A New Era

Thanks to the progress in recent years, Zatta said the University has “a strong foundation in place” and is “well positioned to continue enhancing the value of an FDU degree, to further distinguish the University’s innovative programs and to provide even more opportunities for students to transform their lives.”  

On the selection of Avaltroni as interim president, Zatta said, “Dr. Avaltroni has distinguished himself with an exemplary record of service and contribution to FDU.”

Avaltroni is a 1999 graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, receiving a B.S. in chemistry, Summa Cum Laude. He went on to complete a M.A. in chemistry in 2001 and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 2003, both from Princeton University. Since joining the University in 2003, he has worked in several roles, including as a faculty member and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and he was instrumental in the process of creating the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. In 2009, he began building the school’s curriculum, experiential learning and programmatic infrastructure as associate dean for academic affairs. He took over as interim dean in 2012 and was appointed permanently to the position of dean in 2013. Since creating the blueprint for the school in 2009, he moved the program through full accreditation status with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and led efforts to expand health science offerings across the University through programs in public health, physician assistant studies, occupational therapy, physical therapy and social work.   

Avaltroni was named 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 (which this year had two of its programs nationally recognized by Excelencia in Education); and coordinated the formation of a new academic leadership team.   

“We are very excited about the opportunities ahead,” Zatta said, “and we look forward to supporting Dr. Avaltroni and the entire community as the University begins a new era.”


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