Chapter 1: About St. John's University

Chapter Contents


Our Mission

St. John's University is Catholic, Vincentian, and Metropolitan.

As a university, we commit ourselves to academic excellence and the pursuit of wisdom which flows from free inquiry, religious values and human experience. We strive to preserve and enhance an atmosphere in which scholarly research, imaginative methodology, global awareness and an enthusiastic quest for truth serve as the basis of a vital teaching-learning process and the development of lifelong learning. Our core curriculum in the liberal arts and sciences aims to enrich lives as well as professions and serves to unify the undergraduate experience. Graduate and professional schools express our commitment to research, rigorous standards, and innovative application of knowledge. We aim not only to be excellent professionals with an ability to analyze and articulate clearly what is, but also to develop the ethical and aesthetic values to imagine and help realize what might be.

St. John’s is a Catholic university, founded in 1870 in response to an invitation of the first Bishop of Brooklyn, John Loughlin, to provide the youth of the city with an intellectual and moral education. We embrace the Judeo-Christian ideals of respect for the rights and dignity of every person and each individual’s responsibility for the world in which we live. We commit ourselves to create a climate patterned on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ as embodied in the traditions and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Our community which comprises members of many faiths, strives for an openness which is “wholly directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous, or worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Thus, the university is a place where the Church reflects upon itself and the world as it engages in dialogue with other religious traditions.

St. John’s is a Vincentian university, inspired by St. Vincent de Paul’s compassion and zeal for service. We strive to provide excellent education for all people, especially those lacking economic, physical, or social advantages. Community service programs combine with reflective learning to enlarge the classroom experience. Wherever possible, we devote our intellectual and physical resources to search out the causes of poverty and social injustice and to encourage solutions which are adaptable, effective, and concrete. In the Vincentian tradition, we seek to foster a world view and to further efforts toward global harmony and development, by creating an atmosphere in which all may imbibe and embody the spirit of compassionate concern for others so characteristic of Vincent.

St. John’s is a metropolitan university. We benefit from New York City’s cultural diversity, its intellectual and artistic resources, and the unique professional educational opportunities offered by New York, Rome and other cities throughout the world where our students study and serve. With this richness comes responsibility.  We seek and welcome opportunities to partner and plan with our metropolitan communities.  We encourage them to use our intellectual resources and professional expertise in developing solutions that address strategic issues of mutual concern.  On the local, state, national and international levels, our alumni serve as effective leaders and responsible citizens. We pledge to foster those qualities required for anticipating and responding to the educational, ethical, cultural, social, professional, and religious needs of a dynamic world.

Mission Statement of St. John’s University, New York
Approved by the Board of Trustees, March 13, 2008

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St. Vincent dePaul

St. John's University looks to St. Vincent dePaul (1581-1660), founder of the Congregation of the Mission, for its vision and inspiration. From southern France, Vincent pursued the priesthood as a way to assure a comfortable life. Through a profound conversion experience in his early ministry, Vincent unraveled the central paradox of life: it is in giving that one receives. In a Paris marked by great affluence enjoyed by a few as well as by dire poverty endured by the masses. Vincent discovered that one finds God and oneself in service to others. A man of deep faith, keen intellect, great business acumen and enormous creativity, he was at home in the hovels of the poor and in the palaces of royalty. Respected by the powerful and loved by the poor, Vincent bridged social classes through his works of charity and his advocacy for the disenfranchised.

In collaboration with St. Louise de Marillac (1591-1660), Vincent organized hospitals for the sick poor, founded asylums for the orphaned, opened workshops for the unemployed, championed literacy for the uneducated, advocated for the incarcerated, established local charities, and developed relief for the victims of and reformed the education and formation of the clergy throughout France where his community of priests and brothers undertook the spiritual care of the poor, particularly those in rural areas.

As a Vincentian university, St. John's extends Vincent's vision and continues his unflagging efforts for the poor and needy. The university directs its great resources of knowledge, research their privilege and responsibility to share this mission and to make a unique contribution to the human community and the development of the poor. All at St. John's are inheritors of Vincent's legacy and stewards of his mission to respect each person, serve the needy, and build human solidarity.

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Academic Calendar

Please see the Office of the Registrar's Academic Calendar.

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