Lyndon State President and His Partner Offer Insights Into Tolerance and Openness

Joe Bertolino and Bil Leipold at Champlain College

Lyndon State College President Joe Bertolino and his partner of 21 years, Bil Leipold have traveled the country as trainers and consultants to enlighten college audiences on matters of diversity, tolerance, and assorted higher education leadership concerns. Leipold is associate dean of academic programs and student services at Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice. Their relaxed and nonthreatening style enables people to focus on inherent similarities rather than differences.

On Thursday, Bertolino and Leipold presented their program "When the Gays Move into the Neighborhood" in Alumni Auditorium. The program was sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, President Donald Laackman, Rainbow Alliance and Student Life.

The show was a funny, interactive, and challenging program to get students, faculty and staff to confront important community issues such as diversity appreciation, homophobia, and heterosexism. It is also one of the reasons Bertolino has been named one of the nation's best diversity speakers. A survivor of a hate crime in his younger years, Leipold feels an obligation to give back and offer support to the LGBTQA community and underrepresented individuals. He has taught a hate crime class at Rutgers and provides training and consulting services on homophobia and social justice. During the program, the pair explored the realities and human dimensions of living in a world of heterosexual privilege. They drew examples from their own life, experiences as fraternity men and student affairs professionals, family experiences, and the dynamics in their own relationship.

Joe Bertolino

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit