NEW HAVEN >> Joe Bertolino, the 12th president of Southern Connecticut State University, jokingly apologized to anyone expecting \u201ca traditional ceremony with gravitas\u201d Friday at his inauguration ceremony. For almost three hours, representatives of stakeholder organizations and former students and colleagues of Bertolino spoke of the new president, sometimes with a tone more closely resembling that of a comedic roast than a formal ceremony. The president himself entered the event at the rear of a procession of the SCSU drumline and dozens of enthusiastic students after screening a pre-taped musical video featuring Bertolino, known to students as \u201cPresident Joe,\u201d driving members of the campus community around the city. Kalie Menders, president of the SCSU Undergraduate Student Body, said Bertolino threw himself headfirst into student activities since starting in August. \u201cHis administration is participatory by design,\u201d she said. Bertolino said the students \u201chaven\u2019t been shy to welcome me\u201d and that next week he will be \u201ctie-dyed for charity.\u201d Lawrence DeNardis, who serves on the Board of Regents and was on the presidential search committee, said in the last eight months he has come to believe the committee chose \u201cwisely and well.\u201d Ugo Eze, a former student of Bertolino\u2019s from his time at Queens College, said seeing Bertolino make time to sit and listen to a student, despite his busy schedule as vice president for student affairs, was an instructive moment in his own life. \u201cYour position doesn\u2019t define your ability to touch someone,\u201d he said. \u201cPeople matter. Relationships matter. Relationships have value.\u201d Although Eze and others Bertolino had met over the course of his career spoke fondly about what he had done, Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, said the future for the university will be a challenge given the state\u2019s deficit. All the same, Ojakian said despite being an outsider to the world of academia, he \u201cknows people\u201d and was impressed by Bertolino in his interview for his visible passion, which went beyond giving answers he thought the hiring committee might want to hear. Ojakian said once he visualized Bertolino on SCSU\u2019s campus \u201cthere was really no other option.\u201d Additionally, he said Bertolino did a good job on following through on his promise to listen to the campus community before enacting a vision out of step with what the community itself needed. On Bertolino\u2019s mission to make SCSU a university that takes social justice seriously, Ojakian said it\u2019s important for there to be leaders \u201cto not only say the words \u2018social justice,\u2019 but to mean it,\u201d and he is confident Bertolino is that person. Following Bertolino\u2019s investiture, he turned to the students, who had been acting as his cheer section throughout, and addressed the concerns Ojakian raised about the university\u2019s future. \u201cSouthern is here, we are up to the challenge and Southern is ready to lead,\u201d he said. Bertolino said he believes SCSU is \u201ca working class university, a university of the people,\u201d and it would remain important to him for the university to remain a place where students could get an affordable education.