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Grand Alumni Homecoming Weekend Celebrates St. John’s Past, Present, and Future

Great Lawn During Alumni Weekend
2017 Grand Alumni Homecoming Weekend highlights
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The University’s largest annual alumni gathering drew 1,600 St. John’s graduates and their guests back to alma mater on June 2–3 for St. John’s second annual Grand Alumni Homecoming Weekend. This year’s attendance represented an eight percent increase in participation over the previous year’s inaugural event.

This year’s theme was “Re-engage, Reminisce, and Renew,” and provided numerous opportunities for alumni to reconnect with fellow graduates, faculty, and students. 

Addressing the alumni at the reception and dinner on Saturday, June 3, President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., said, “Homecoming is remembering the past, celebrating the present, and staying in touch for the future. Tonight, you have come home to St. John’s. You are the heart and soul of St. John’s.”

Alumni representing a wide range of class years joined the celebration. Overnight guests began to check in to campus housing as early as Thursday, June 1. After a complimentary breakfast on Friday, guests participated in two new events: a tour of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan and a visit to the on-campus St. John’s University Heritage Exhibit that was open throughout the weekend.

From the D’Angelo Center to St. Augustine Hall, alumni gathered across the campus on Friday afternoon for individual college and school award ceremonies and receptions. That evening, they mingled outdoors on Lourdes Plaza for an “After Party” alumni gathering.

Grand Alumni Homecoming Weekend 5K RunSaturday began with the St. John’s 5K Run/Walk and Kids Fun Run, and basketball alumnus Anthony Mason, Jr., organized a Charity Kickball Game to support the not-for-profit Kicks 4 Confidence. Other activities included a Brunch and Q&A with President Gempesaw, Campus Walking Tours, a Q&A with St. John’s Red Storm Athletics and Coaches, and several Academic Lectures. That afternoon, the Alumni Great Lawn Party included food, music, rides, and games for children of alumni.

“We had to come back for this,” said Diane Miltakis Mussalli ’98Pharm.D. She and her husband, Andrew, who graduated in 1998 with a degree in biology, brought their three children. “We love the carnival atmosphere—it’s a beautiful way to spend an afternoon with the family.”

The two days of activities concluded with the Grand Alumni Signature Celebration, held in the D’Angelo Center. Prior to that, Mass was celebrated in St. Thomas More Church. Following Mass, St. John’s honored six distinguished graduates for their achievements and service to the University:

Harry R. Beeth '67CBA, '70MBAHarry R. Beeth ’67CBA, ’70MBA

Pietas Medal, awarded to alumni and alumnae who have demonstrated a lifetime of devotion and loyalty to the University, while recognizing their leadership, longevity, and consistency of service to St. John’s.

Steven J. Farella '77SVC Steven J. Farella ’77SVC

Heritage Circle, recognizing alumni and alumnae who graduated from St. John’s 40 or more years ago and have maintained a close association with the University through their participation, interest, and extraordinary support of alma mater.

William J. Montgoris '67CBA, '88HONWilliam J. Montgoris ’67CBA, ’88HON

University Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to graduates who, over the course of their lifetime, have exemplified a true Vincentian spirit of service to others and have had a major impact on the University’s life and mission through their generosity, dedication, and loyalty.

Lee D. Eisenberg, M.D., FACS '67CLee D. Eisenberg, M.D., FACS ’67C

Outstanding Alumni Achievement Medal, presented to graduates who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and leadership, a deep commitment to serving others, and substantial dedication to St. John’s and its mission.

Sr. Beryl F. Herdt, O.P. '67Ph.DSr. Beryl F. Herdt, O.P. ’67Ph.D

Pietas Medal, awarded to alumni and alumnae who have demonstrated a lifetime of devotion and loyalty to the University, while recognizing their leadership, longevity, and consistency of service to St. John’s.

Salvatore J. Zizza '67UC, '07HONSalvatore J. Zizza ’67UC, ’07HON

President’s Medal, awarded to individuals who have achieved exceptional personal and professional success and/or rendered outstanding service to the University or society.

After Mass and the University Alumni Award Ceremony, President Gempesaw welcomed nearly 200 guests to the D’Angelo Center Ballroom for a reception and dinner, paying special tribute to alumni celebrating their 50th Anniversary. William J. Montgoris, the Class Chair and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, delivered remarks.

Grand Alumni Homecoming 50th Anniversary Class

A Trustee Emeritus of St. John’s, Mr. Montgoris drew cheers from his classmates as he recounted their days at St. John’s former Schermerhorn Street campus in Brooklyn. He urged his fellow alumni to “do anything you can do, in any way,” to support current students. “They are much as we were 50 years ago,” he said.

Graduates of 1967 established an endowed scholarship fund at the University with a 50th Anniversary Class gift of $50,000.

“St. John’s is much more than a college campus,” noted Mark Andrews, Director of Alumni Relations. “It’s the people, the success, the history, and the tradition. Our alumni in large part make St. John’s what it is. That’s something we celebrate this weekend and embrace throughout the year.”