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President's Biography


Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw is the 17th President of St. John’s University, one of the nation’s largest and most diverse Catholic universities with 20,000 students on six locations in Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, and Hauppauge in New York; Rome, Italy; and Paris, France. He is the first lay president in the 147-year history of the private, Catholic, and Vincentian St. John’s University.

Upon assuming his position as president in July 2014, he immediately instituted a comprehensive University-wide engagement process to solicit feedback and input on four specific strategic priorities identified in his investiture address, which are:

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

The resultant Strategic Priorities Action Plan reflects the broad-based and inclusive process through which it was developed. The four strategic priorities reflect a commitment to shared ownership and shared responsibility to promote academic excellence and advance the Vincentian mission of St. John’s University.

He is an accomplished scholar, teacher, and administrator, with over three decades of academic and administrative experience and leadership in higher education. Prior to his appointment at St. John’s University, he served as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Previously, he served as Dean of the University of Delaware’s (UD) Lerner College of Business and Economics and Vice Provost for Academic and International Programs. He also served as Interim Dean of UD’s College of Arts and Sciences and Chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics.  He joined UD as an assistant professor in 1985, was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor in 1989, and promoted to full professor in 1993.

His field of research and expertise is in higher education administration, financial simulation analysis, marketing, and international trade. He has published over 100 journal articles and conference proceedings, and had supervised 32 master’s theses and dissertations. He earned his B.A. in Economics from Ateneo de Davao University in the Philippines, M.S. in Agricultural Economics from West Virginia University, and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Penn State University. He was a recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Delaware’s College of Agricultural Sciences and the Outstanding Alumni Award from Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences.  He recently was recognized for the 2017 Penn State Graduate School Alumni Society Lifetime Achievement Award. 

He is a member of the St. John’s University Board of Trustees and Board of Governors, the Big East Conference Board of Directors, and he serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (NY) . He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Mannington Mills, Inc. He is the host of Sharing Knowledge, an award-winning cable television talk show broadcast in the tristate region on Telecare that explores pertinent religious and secular topics.

He is married to Clavel Albay Gempesaw, who earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware, and they are the proud parents of two sons, Daniel and David.