Administrative Changes at St. John’s

Sunday, December 15, 2013

During the past few months four individuals have been named to fill key administrative positions within the University. Russell J. DiGate, Ph.D. was elected by the University’s Board of Trustees to serve as Dean of St. John’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; James O’Keefe, Ph.D. ’79SVC was appointed Vice Provost for the University’s Staten Island campus; Joseph E. Oliva ’91CBA, ’94L , who currently serves as St. John’s General Counsel, assumed additional oversight responsibilities for University Athletics; and Edward M. Kull ’05MBA was named as Acting Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

It was St. John’s commitment to academic excellence combined with the University’s unique mission of service that convinced Dr. Russell DiGate to accept the position as St. John’s newest Academic Dean.

"For me, the Vincentian mission is the most engaging aspect of St. John's, because I'm very interested in health care disparities,” he said. “This is so important in a profession that, by its very nature, serves underprivileged populations. That's what the Vincentians are about, and that's what the health professions should be about. My goal is to make sure that every one of our programs has overt components that are linked to the University’s  Vincentian mission."

Prior to coming to St. John’s, DiGate served as Provost at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, PA. He came to the University of the Sciences from the University of Maryland, where he served as Chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, and Acting Dean within the School of Pharmacy. An internationally recognized expert in the field of topoisomerases and DNA replication, he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester (NY) and conducted postdoctoral research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (NY).

A tenured Associate Professor and former Associate Dean of the College of Professional Studies, Dr. James O’Keefe will return to St. John’s in January following completion of a two-year leave of absence, during which he served as a Deputy Commissioner for Training in the New York Police Department (NYPD). In that role he focused on providing the 51,000 sworn and civilian members of the NYPD with the finest and most advanced education and training. His responsibilities included training new recruits as well as providing promotional training for sergeants, lieutenants and captains. He also offered in-service tactical training; civilian training and executive development.

In his new position as Vice Provost, O’Keefe will be the senior academic administrator assigned to the Staten Island campus.

“I am delighted that Jim will be applying his outstanding leadership skills, his past experience as a faculty member and administrator on the Staten Island campus, and his most recent experience as Deputy Commissioner to this critically important academic leadership position,” said University Provost Robert A. Mangione, R.Ph. ’77P, ’79GP, ’93PD, ’99Ed.D.

O’Keefe earned his B.S. in Criminal Justice from St. Vincent’s College of St. John’s University in 1979. He also holds an M.S. in Political Science and Administration and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice Administration from Sam Houston State University (TX).

Joe Oliva’s oversight responsibility for Athletics is in addition to his long-standing position as St. John’s General Counsel, in which he provides legal guidance to the Board of Trustees, the President and other administrative offices of the University. Experienced in all aspects of athletic compliance, he played an integral role in St. John’s recent negotiations involving the new BIG EAST Conference.

“This is an exciting time in the history of St. John’s athletics,” noted Oliva. “The new BIG EAST conference, the new television contract with FOX Sports and the new sponsorship arrangement with Under Armour are creating a buzz within the University community as well as within our fan base. I look forward to serving St. John’s in this new capacity as well as in my role as lawyer.”

Oliva is a double alumnus of St. John's. He earned his bachelor's degree in Finance, summa cum laude, from the College of Business Administration in 1991 and graduated magna cum laude from St. John’s School of Law in 1994.

Over the past decade, Ed Kull has developed a strong bond with St. John's alumni and friends. He first came to the University in 2003 as Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and External Affairs. He left in 2007, joining fellow alumnus Mike Repole ’91SVC at his start-up company, Glaceau Vitaminwater. Kull’s efforts helped to transform Vitaminwater from a small venture into a national brand. The company was later acquired by Coca Cola, and Kull remained with the new parent company, taking advantage of the opportunity to learn valuable corporate marketing skills.

He returned to the University in 2011 as Director of Development for Men's Basketball, then served as Associate Chief of Staff for Athletics and Institutional Advancement. In the latter position he was involved in many athletics initiatives, including creation of the new BIG EAST Conference and identification of FOX Sports as the University’s TV partner and Under Armour as SJU’s new athletic apparel partner.      

Kull received his bachelor's degree in Finance from Stony Brook University and earned his M.B.A. in Executive Management from The Peter J. Tobin College of Business in 2005.

In his new role, Kull is responsible for all aspects of alumni relations and fundraising. "I am excited to be leading Institutional Advancement as we move into the future by building upon the accomplishments of the past," he said. "The opportunities to engage our alumni, coupled with the ever-present need to generate the resources necessary to advance the University's unique mission, are more important today than ever."