Profile on President Pestello
Emily Powers ’13 and Aubrey Zych ‘14, Staff Writer
April 12, 2012
Filed under News & Features
As the 13th president of Le Moyne College, Fred Pestello, Ph.D., is the first lay leader of the institution. Prior to this job, he worked at the University of Dayton, as a sociology professor, academic chair, dean, provost and senior vice president. Everyone has heard of the man behind the administration, but how much do we really know about Pestello?
Last week, The Dolphin caught up with him, discovering a few interesting facts and some little-known history.
THE DOLPHIN: What’s your favorite part about the job?
FRED PESTELLO: My favorite part of the job is staying closely connected with the students, the faculty and the staff. I think what happens here is really exciting. For example, sometimes I’ll randomly go over to the cafeteria and have lunch with a group of students and sit down and talk to them. I like to hear about their work, what they’re doing and what they’re excited about.
TD: If you were a student at Le Moyne right now, what activities would you be involved in?
FP: The campus radio station; that’s what I did as an undergraduate. I did everything from selling airtime to engineering. I was an FCC [Federal Communications Commission] certified engineer. I did broadcast endorsement, newscasting, talk shows, interview shows and disk jockey work.
TD: What were your favorite classes as an undergraduate?
FP: I loved almost everything as an undergraduate. I spent my first two years as a chemistry major. I still love science. I love philosophy, sociology. I loved just about everything I took, and would have loved to take more.
TD: What areas of research and academia are you interested in the most?
FP: I’m a sociologist by training. I’m particularly interested in symbolic interaction. That’s the area that I’ve written the most in, that I’ve published in, that I still find the most interesting intellectually. It’s sociological social psychology; it involves how we construct shared meaning, and act upon it its basis.
TD: Do you ever miss being a professor?
FP: Yes, a lot… I miss the classroom a lot. When you go into administration, you know administrative work is very satisfying, but you sacrifice the primary reasons you go into the academy, which are teaching and scholarship. So, I miss my discipline. I did co-teach a course with Dan Orne last year [Leadership through Film]. I enjoyed that a lot, and I hope to be able to have that opportunity again.
TD: What do you like to read for pleasure?
FP: Most recently, I’ve been reading historical biographies of Jefferson and Washington. I read books on leadership… occasionally novels. The last novel I read was Steve Martin’s “An Object of Beauty,” which was very sociological. Understanding art worlds is an area of sociology that I’m interested in.
TD: What is your favorite place on campus?
FP: My favorite spot on campus is probably the Chapel. I really enjoy the events and services held there.
TD: Any favorite TV shows or movies?
FP: The only TV shows I watch with any regularity, if I’m up late at night, are Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
TD: When you retire, what will you miss the most about Le Moyne?
FP: I really like the fact that it’s a Catholic, Jesuit school and they take the mission seriously. Everyone here does such a great job with the education and development of students. I’ll miss being a part of that excitement.
TD: If you had to address every student at Le Moyne right now, is there any particular advice you would give them?
FP: Develop your head; follow your heart.