Top of D'Angelo Center

Office of the President

President Gempesaw

Welcome to St. John’s University!

For 150 years, St. John’s University has educated the sons and daughters of immigrants. Founded in 1870, the University was established by the Vincentians at the request of the first Bishop of Brooklyn to provide higher education to a growing immigrant population.  We are proud of this tradition which fosters openness and respect for every person and equal opportunity to attain a college education.  As such, it is not surprising that St. John’s is among the most diverse national universities in the country.

St. John’s University instills in its students not only the desire for knowledge and pursuit of academic excellence but also the compassion to serve others—especially those most in need—following the example of St. Vincent de Paul.  Because of this mission, the University is noted for its academic service-learning programs, which combine academics with opportunities to cultivate faith while engaging in service.

At St. John’s, our primary goal is to ensure the success of our students. I encourage you to learn more about the University’s excellent programs, our beautiful campuses, and our outstanding faculty, staff, and administrators who support our more than 21,000 students and over 190,000 alumni.

I thank you for your interest in St. John’s University.

Sincerely,

Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D.
President

A Message from the President to the University Community

As we start the fall 2020 semester, I write to extend a warm welcome to all of you as we return to campus during a critical moment in St. John’s history, five months after we closed the campus in mid-March due to the pandemic. I commend St. John’s faculty, administrators, and staff for doing everything they can to make it possible for us to reopen and offer our academic programs through a combination of in-person, rotating hybrid, and online classes. I thank our students and their families for their understanding and cooperation during this time of great challenge.

In view of the continued threat of COVID-19, we must remain vigilant and cognizant of the importance of observing the necessary health and safety measures based on public health guidelines. One of St. John’s core values is respect for one another. As a sign of respect for each member of our campus community, I ask everyone to please follow these guidelines:

  • Complete the COVID-19 Symptom Screening survey in the St. John´s Connect mobile app each day before arriving at campus
  • Always wear a face covering
  • Practice social distancing both on and off campus
  • Wash your hands regularly throughout the day
  • Stay home if you feel ill

Please visit our dedicated website, www.stjohns.edu/stjohnsopens for additional information that you may need pertaining to our campus reopening. Our success in keeping the St. John’s campuses open will depend on the decisions we make individually and collectively in following these health and safety measures. By being responsible and respectful of each other, we can hopefully mitigate the risk of this pandemic. 

Since its founding in 1870, St. John’s University has endured through periods of great adversity and emerged from these challenges stronger while remaining faithful to our Catholic and Vincentian mission. 

As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of St. John’s, let us renew our commitment to our founding mission so we can continue to forge a path of opportunity and mobility for our students, especially those most in need.

My best wishes to all of you for a successful and safe fall semester.

On July 6, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced new guidance that international students will not be allowed to stay in the country if they attend institutions that offer only online courses during the fall 2020 semester. St. John's, like most higher education institutions, is actively planning for various scenarios to best respond to the challenge of providing academic instruction during the global pandemic. Our return to campus plan for the fall 2020 semester includes a combination of in-person, hybrid and online classes which will hopefully allow international students to meet the requirement that they must take an in-person or hybrid learning class.

However, the new ICE guidance poses a major problem if New York State public health guidelines require that St. John’s offer only online instruction in the fall.  Under the new ICE guidance, our international students are faced with the choice to either transfer to another institution that provides in-person or hybrid learning (both in-person and remote instruction), or leave the United States immediately and risk the possibility of not being allowed to return. In addition, international students who are currently out of the country will not be granted visas to enter the U.S. if the institution they plan to attend offers only online instruction. This unduly restrictive policy not only adds to the stress and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 but also serves to increase the divide between the United States and the rest of the world.

On behalf of the University, I join a growing number of leaders from public and private colleges and universities in opposing these recent ICE regulations. As a member of the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, St. John’s along with 179 other institutions signed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief to support a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology against these new regulations. In addition, St. John’s is also a signatory on the American Council on Education (ACE) letter asking Congress to encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to withdraw the ICE directive. If DHS is unwilling to withdraw the directive, the letter also asks Congress to swiftly pass legislation that grants needed flexibility for international students and institutions during the global pandemic. Finally, our Office of Government Relations has reached out to our local federal representatives to apprise them of the potential impact that these new ICE regulations will impose on our nearly 1,000 international students presently enrolled.

As a former international student who now has the privilege of leading St. John’s University – a school with a founding and enduring Catholic and Vincentian mission to educate immigrants and their children – I am gravely concerned about the unfair implications of this policy. Our University is a better place because we attract students from more than 100 countries around the globe seeking educational opportunities through the St. John’s experience. Our institution, our city, and our country are made better by the contributions of immigrants and international students.  Our University remains committed to our international students and their success.

I hope that you and your loved ones are well and safe during these challenging and unsettled times. While we are preoccupied with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily lives, recent events remind us that despite our common humanity, we remain a deeply divided nation.

Once again, we have witnessed how issues of racial injustice continue to loom large in American society. For far too long, racial disparities that permeate the criminal justice system often result in undermining its purpose. From Central Park to Minneapolis, Minnesota to Brunswick, Georgia and other parts of the country, we are reminded that we must do better to bridge the racial divide and to tear down the walls of institutional racism that surround us. These unfortunate and tragic events show that so much more work needs to be done to form “a more perfect union,” not just in our country but in our hearts and minds. We must treat each other with love and respect the inherent dignity of the human person.

On behalf of the entire St. John’s University community, I wish to express our sincere sympathy and solidarity with the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and other victims of injustice everywhere.

As a Catholic and Vincentian University, St. John’s strongly condemns all forms of racism, violence, intolerance, hate and bigotry. When atrocities occur in any place, all people must unite to condemn such violence and support the victims. We must speak out against racial injustice and hate.

Please join me in praying for the victims of injustice and for our nation to come together in our common humanity. We must rise above hatred and violence and work towards greater understanding and compassion for one another. The progress of the American experience is never complete but we can, we must, and we should do better.

On behalf of the St. John’s University community, I wish to express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims killed and those injured in the mass shootings that took place over the past eight days in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas and at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. We commend the first responders whose bravery and quick action prevented more casualties in these tragic incidents.  

As a Catholic and Vincentian University,  we add our voices to those seeking an end to these senseless tragedies. We continue to pray for the courage to rise above hatred and violence, and to work for greater understanding and compassion for one another. May all of the recent victims and their families find comfort in the collective sympathy of the St. John’s community – a community that joins them in prayer, remembrance, and solidarity.

On behalf of the entire St. John’s community, I wish to express the University’s deep sympathy with the families of the victim killed and those injured in the shooting that took place over the weekend at a synagogue – Congregation Chabad – north of San Diego, California. The shooting, which occurred on the last day of Passover, is the latest in a disturbing trend of attacks on houses of worship and people of all faiths in the United States and other countries around the world.

As a Catholic and Vincentian University, St. John’s strongly condemns all forms of faith-based violence, extremism, intolerance, hate, bigotry, and racism. When atrocities occur in any place of worship as we have seen too often as of late, all people should unite to condemn such violence and support the victims. We must always speak out against the use of hate speech in our communities and on social media.

We continue to pray for the courage to rise above hatred and violence, and to work for greater understanding and compassion for one another. May all of the recent victims and their families, and people of all faiths, find comfort in the collective sympathy of the St. John’s community – a community that joins them in prayer, remembrance, and solidarity.

On behalf of the entire St. John’s community, I wish to express the University’s solidarity with the victims and families of those who were killed or injured in the horrific terror attacks that took place at several churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the year on the Christian calendar. Pope Francis has said that these attacks “brought mourning and sorrow” on the most important of Christian holidays.

The terror attacks have thus far claimed the lives of at least 290 innocent people and injured more than 500 people. The Sri Lankan government has called these bombings as a “well-coordinated attempt to create murder, mayhem, and anarchy.” Many foreigners, including Americans, are among the victims, still missing or unidentified.

As a Catholic and Vincentian University, St. John’s strongly condemns all forms of violence, extremism, religious intolerance, hate, bigotry, and racism.  When atrocities occur in any place of worship as sadly we have seen far too often during this year, all people should unite to condemn such violence and support the victims.

Please join the St. John’s community in praying for our global family to come together and rise above hatred and violence and work towards greater understanding and compassion for one another.  May the victims and their families, and people of all faiths find comfort in the collective sympathy of our community that joins them in prayer and remembrance of the lives lost.

On behalf of the entire St. John’s community, I wish to express the University’s solidarity with the victims and families of those who were killed or injured in the horrific shootings that took place at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday, March 15.  The brutal attack that claimed the lives of 50 innocent people, including several children, is an attack on humanity.  

As a Catholic and Vincentian University, St. John’s strongly condemns all forms of violence, extremism, intolerance, hate, bigotry and racism.  When atrocities occur in any place of worship – whether it be at a mosque in New Zealand, a synagogue in Pittsburgh, or a Roman Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippines –all people should unite to condemn such violence and support the victims. 

Please join me in praying for our global family to come together in common humanity to rise above hatred and violence and work towards greater understanding and compassion for one another.  May the victims and their families, and people of all faiths find comfort in the collective sympathy of our community that joins them in prayer and remembrance of the lives lost.

Initiatives

St. Augustine Hall

Strategic Priorities

In 2015, the University adopted the Strategic Priorities Action Plan as an institution-wide framework addressing our four strategic priorities. The Strategic Priorities Action plan was developed by the Strategic Priorities Working Group (SPWG) and the President’s Advisory Council (PAC). The Plan will guide and inform our decision making over the next five years and beyond.

President's Society 2018 Members

President's Society

Founded in 1968, the President’s Society honors those students who combine scholarship, integrity, maturity, and a well-rounded personality with University-wide awareness, participation and leadership, demonstrated by their significant contributions to the academic, co-curricular, and extracurricular life of St. John’s.