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Strategic Planning

Under the leadership of President Gempesaw, strategic planning at St. John's University is action-oriented and university community-driven.  During his first 100 days in office, Dr. Gempesaw embarked upon a listening tour across the University to identify our four strategic priorities to:

  • Ensure student success
  • Recruit, recognize, and retain the best faculty, staff, and administrators
  • Enhance our teaching and learning environment
  • Expand global and community partnerships

In November, 2014, Dr. Gempesaw formed the Strategic Priorities Working Group (SPWG), a diverse, 13-member committee of faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and trustees. The SPWG was charged with engaging the St. John’s community broadly to develop a University-wide action plan with specific action items addressing each of our four strategic priorities.  During an intensive, 11-month process, the SPWG worked with key University leaders and over a thousand individual members of the community to draft a University-wide Strategic Priorities Action Plan.  Through the summer of 2015, all academic and administrative units developed their own action plans aligned with the Strategic Priorities Action Plan.  In October, 2015, the Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the Strategic Priorities Action Plan. 

In January, 2016, Dr. Gempesaw formed a new representative group  called the Strategic Priorities Review Team (SPRT), and charged the members with monitoring University-wide implementation of the Strategic Priorities Action Plan.  Currently, the SPRT consist of nearly 50 members of the faculty, staff, administration, and student body.  During the summer of 2016, SPRT completed its first review cycle and prepared a summary report on institutional actions and progress in achieving our strategic priorities since 2015.  The 2016 SPRT Summary Report has been shared with the university leadership and will serve as a both the baseline for assessing progress during the 2016-2017 academic year, as well as a guide for areas in need of future action.  The SPRT will also work with University leaders to recommend changes to the Strategic Priorities Action Plan for the 2016-2017 academic year.

In August, 2016, Dr. Gempesaw convened his third annual President’s Retreat, where over 100 of the key University leaders met to discuss the 2016 SPRT summary report, as well as to identify the top actions necessary to advance our strategic priorities in the 2016-2017 academic year.  At the retreat, members of the President’s Advisory Council, the Academic and Administrative Assembly, the SPRT, and other key leaders identified ten specific areas for action and Dr. Gempesaw has subsequently tasked the President's Advisory Council with generating actionable recommendations on each.


To date, our action-oriented approach to strategic planning and implementation has led to a number of successes:

Enrolled over 3,200 new first year undergraduate students in both Fall 2015 and Fall 2016

Largest incoming cohort of any Catholic College and University in the nation in 2015 and 2016

Increased first-to-second year retention rate to nearly 84% for Fall 2015 entering freshman cohort – an over five percentage point gain from 2014 

Addressing issue of college affordability by providing more than $213 million in financial aid to over 95% of students, as well as a tuition freeze on the Queens campus and tuition reset for the Staten Island campus

Tripled the number of students in the R.I.S.E. Network (Reach, Inspire, Succeed, Empower) in fall 2016 

Developed a University-wide alumni mentorship program launching in fall 2016

Increased coordination between Enrollment Management, Division of Student Affairs, and the members of faculty in student recruitment and orientation

Launched a Graduate Student Orientation Program and enrichment and certificate programming for graduate students in summer 2016

Hired three new deans and 71 new faculty members in 2015 and 2016

Appointed a Chief Diversity Officer

Implemented a new net tuition revenue sharing program for the colleges/schools

Renovation of the entire second floor of St. Augustine Hall as the new home of the College of Professional Studies on the Queens campus completed in January 2016

Renovation of Bent Hall for the Peter J. Tobin College of Business on the Queens campus is currently underway

Renovations to the Montgoris Hall cafeteria, updates to the DaSilva and Hollis residence halls, and renovation of the basketball court in the Resident Village on the Queens campus completed in summer 2016

Technology upgrades made to 75 classrooms across the Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island campuses since 2015

St. John’s University ranked nationally among the top-40 doctorate-granting universities for undergraduate student study abroad participation rate 

Publication of the President’s Newsletter and the production/hosting of the Sharing Knowledge TV show on the Telecare network showcase University-wide achievements, athletics, and mission

Increased alumni engagement through targeted programming, such as the first ever Grand Alumni Homecoming Weekend

Our unique university community-based approach to action-oriented planning, implementation, and monitoring of institutional effectiveness has led to an increased awareness of our strategic priorities and is advancing these priorities through our culture of shared ownership of and accountability for student success.