I consistently received support for any scholarly or service venture that I embarked upon. I just can’t imagine any place else offering all of that. I was always incredibly happy just to be here.
It was a fainting spell that ultimately set Dr. Lisa Battaglino on the path to a career in higher education.
“I actually wanted to be a nurse when I was in high school,” she recalled. “But that summer my dad and sister were in the hospital. I visited each of them, and both times I fainted.” When she got home, her mother sat her down and suggested another career.
The better part of that career – three decades of it, in fact – has been spent at Bridgewater State.
Dr. Battaglino attended elementary school in Newton, graduating from Waltham High School in 1975. After reconsidering her childhood dream of becoming a nurse, she enrolled at what was then Bridgewater State College, majoring in special and elementary education. After graduating in 1979, she went to Boston College to teach part time and also got a job teaching special education classes at Waltham High School. Later, she’d also earn a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in curriculum, education and administration, both from BC.
She met her husband, Dennis Rodrigues, ’79, at Bridgewater State, and, after their marriage, the couple settled in town. Dr. Battaglino began teaching as an adjunct at Massasoit Community College, as well as at Leslie College, now Leslie University, in Cambridge. However, her alma mater was beckoning.
“I loved teaching at these colleges, but my goal was always to get back to Bridgewater,” Dr. Battaglino said. “I wanted to be a special education professor, Bridgewater State offered that, and I lived in town, so I thought that would be the ideal place to teach.”
Her chance came when Bridgewater State needed an adjunct psychology professor. Shortly after, in 1992, when a full-time spot opened in the Department of Special Education, Dr. Battaglino was hired. She was appointed acting dean in 2011, but soon the “acting” fell away, and what’s followed has been a busy schedule of leading the College of Education and Allied Studies, as well as the fulfillment of her passionate commitment to social justice at home and abroad.
The support she received from all quarters is what made her never want to leave BSU, she said.
“From the very beginning, I felt I had every conceivable support here for doing the scholarly work I wanted to do and the service I was interested in,” she said. “I consistently received support for any scholarly or service venture that I embarked upon. I just can’t imagine any place else offering all of that. I was always incredibly happy just to be here.”
The scholarly and service aspects of Dr. Battaglino’s time at BSU include an ongoing relationship with the Ministry of Education in Belize, where she spearheaded efforts by fellow faculty, administrators and students to volunteer in the country’s schools. When she earned a $10,000 Presidential Fellowship Award from Bridgewater State, she used the funds to develop the partnership between BSU and the Ministry of Education in Belize. She had done similar work previously in Moscow with Russia’s Ministry of Education.
“My personal and academic goal has always been to improve the lives of people with disabilities throughout the world,” Dr. Battaglino said. “The places I focused on were ones that do not have special education as we know it.”
In the process, she’s passed on the same kind of compassion and need for inclusivity to BSU students. Through her international work, they’ve also learned about the importance of being global citizens.
After 30 years at the university, Dr. Battaglino retired this spring. She and her husband now live in Falmouth and spend time with their children, Andrew Rodrigues, ’18; Ashley Rodrigues, G’07; Dennis Rodrigues III; their spouses; and four grandsons.
“I’m retiring from a job I adore,” she said. “The people I work with are amazing. I’m sad that I’ll be leaving, but happy about what I’m going toward.”