People walking in the snow infront of St. Thomas More Church

President's Newsletter

Vol. 4 | Issue 2 | February 2019

Letter from the President

Conrado "Bobby" Gempesaw, Ph.D.

When the Vincentian fathers first opened the doors of St. John’s University in 1870—then a one-room farmhouse in Brooklyn—those pioneering educators created a world of opportunity for students and began an enduring mission to transform lives. The 47 students in St. John's first class were given a piece of slate and chalk to take notes. Almost 150 years later, while rapidly changing technologies are driving today’s classroom environments, our founding mission endures as we prepare for the University's 150th anniversary celebration beginning in 2020.

In this issue of The President’s Newsletter, you will discover how our diverse student population at seven global campuses and locations is learning through the use of the latest technologies. We have made substantial investments in creating the most dynamic and state-of-the-art classrooms. In partnership with the University's academic and administrative units, we have implemented major capital projects to design, upgrade, renovate, and install new classroom technology to enhance St. John's teaching and learning environment—one of our four Strategic Priorities. In 2014, only seven percent of campus classrooms met our established standard for technology. Today, that number is 80 percent, with a goal of 100 percent by 2020. Cutting-edge equipment including 3D printers, virtual reality systems, and eSports technologies are being used daily by students to best prepare them for success in a global society.

As I travel the country meeting alumni who have climbed to the top of their professions, the recurring theme they share with me is how their lives and careers were enriched by their St. John’s education. In this issue, we profile four pioneering alumni who are at the pinnacle of success in the competitive industry of news and media. Their stories epitomize the St. John’s story of drive and determination. Any worthwhile endeavor requires hard work, a characteristic shared by more than 184,000 alumni as well as our larger campus community.

At St. John’s, we forge a path of mobility and open doors of opportunity for students who want to make a difference in the world. Our students and the University's accomplished graduates are a continual source of school pride and a powerful reminder for us to be faithful to the founding mission. The stories shared in this issue, and the commitment and dedication of our faculty, administrators, and staff, demonstrate the powerful promise and possibilities of the St. John’s educational experience.


Bobby Gempesaw signature




Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D.


Red Storm Sports Update

For the second-straight year, seven St. John’s athletic teams achieved perfect graduation success rates, the NCAA announced in November.

“We take pride in all of our student-athletes who continue to shine in the classroom,” said St. John’s Director of Athletics Mike Cragg. “Red Storm athletic teams were highlighted once again in this latest report, which is a testament to the deep commitment to excellence by our student-athletes, coaches, and academic support staff."

  • Men's Fencing
  • Women's Fencing
  • Women's Cross Country/Track & Field
  • Women's Golf
  • Women's Soccer
  • Women's Tennis

Board of Trustees and Board of Governors Update

St. John’s University’s Board of Trustees is composed of dedicated individuals who come together to preserve and enhance the Catholic and Vincentian mission of the University. The Board of Trustees ensures that short- and long-term planning and goals for the University are defined and implemented by the St. John’s community.

The new appointees have distinguished themselves as successful professionals and supporters of alma mater. Along with their spouses, both new members have been recipients of the Spirit of Service Award. The honor is given at the annual President's Dinner to alumni and friends who embody the University’s Catholic and Vincentian values in their lives and work. They are:

  • Pascal Desroches, M.B.A., C.P.A. ’86CBA
    Chief Financial Officer, WarnerMedia Inc.
    Administrative Officer, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
    Mr. Desroches and his wife, Yvette E. DeGannes ’86CBA, were Spirit of Service Award recipients at the 2018 President’s Dinner.
  • Joseph A. Tarantino ’80CBA
    President and Chief Executive Officer, Protiviti Inc.
    Mr. Tarantino and his wife, Eileen Tarantino ’80CBA, were Spirit of Service Award recipients at the 2016 President’s Dinner.

The St. John’s University Board of Governors advises Dr. Gempesaw and the Board of Trustees on a variety of issues affecting the University. The Board of Governors serves as a resource to the President and provides a forum for communication among the University community concerning the strategic direction of the institution. Four new appointees who have distinguished themselves in their careers and who demonstrate steadfast support of alma mater have joined the Board of Governors. They are:

  • Robert J. Cruz ’96SVC
    Senior Vice President, National Branch Officer, Director of Field Operations, STARR Companies
  • Janet Squitieri ’82CBA, ’87L, ’94MBA
    Executive Director, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Susan (Reph) White ’85CBA
    Head of Sales, Americas: KYC/AML Solutions, Bloomberg L.P.
  • Damon Young, M.B.A. ’93CBA
    Director of Finance, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation