November 22, 2010
When a young Alfred Liberti '41G began his graduate studies at
St. John's University in 1939, he never imagined that he would play
one of the most pivotal roles in St. John's academic history. Fresh
from his undergraduate studies at Niagara University, Liberti
served as a Graduate Assistant on the University's Schermerhorn
Street campus in downtown Brooklyn, and received an exciting
request after he completed his degree.
that time the University College was St. John's Liberal Arts
college," he recalled, "and they wanted to start a program in the
Biological Sciences. I put the Biological Sciences program together
on Schermerhorn Street, and was a part of that program there for
the next 25 years. Then, in the late 1960s, the program moved to
the Queens campus and I went out there with it."
During his nearly 50 years as a faculty member, Liberti had the
opportunity to interact with thousands of students as they prepared
for careers in a variety of science-related professions. Although
the actual individuals who sat in his classrooms changed, the
characteristics and qualities that defined them remained the
"My students were wonderful kids," he said, "and became very
successful in their professional lives. The young people in my
classes worked hard with me and with their other professors as we
prepared them for what their lives were about to become. I still
keep in touch with some of them, and see them on occasion, which is
very nice. I hope that I've made a difference for at least a few of
Liberti has, in fact, made a significant difference for more
than just "…a few of them". As a testament to the esteem in which
this beloved former professor is held, the Dr. Alfred V. Liberti
Endowed Scholarship Fund has been established to provide partial
annual scholarships to academically qualified undergraduate
students majoring in Biology in St. John's College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences who plan to pursue a career in the medical sciences.
Alex Robles '11C has been selected as the first recipient of the
"I'm very honored to be the first student to receive this
scholarship," said Robles. "It's wonderful that a world-renowned
Biology Professor is very interested in helping our students
financially. I really appreciate all that he's done for me."
Robles had an opportunity to express his appreciation when
he and Liberti recently enjoyed lunch at the Faculty Club on the
Queens campus. It was a perfect opportunity for a deserving student
and a legendary professor to get to know each other on a personal
"This scholarship means so much to me, and it's really nice that
it was established in my name," remarked Liberti. "It's very
special to be able to help today's students, because that's what
St. John's has always been about. Alex Robles is a wonderful young
man who will definitely go far in his chosen career." Looking back
on his long association with St. John's, Liberti firmly believes
that the Vincentian values that have always been a part of the
University have made a lasting difference in his life.
"I did my undergraduate work at Niagara University and started
there in 1935, so I guess you can say that I've been with the
Vincentians for most of my life," he said. "The Vincentian Fathers
are special to me, and I really feel honored to count myself as
part of the Vincentian community. When you think of what St.
Vincent de Paul taught us about having feelings for other people,
you're really talking about the very thing that makes St. John's so
special. You can believe me when I tell you that I'll never forget
St. John's or the Vincentians."