Students sitting at table outside talking

The President's Newsletter

Vol. 5 | Issue 1 | October 2019

Letter from the President

President Gempesaw standing infront of St. Augustine Hall

Our 2019–20 academic year begins with the historic announcement that the College of Professional Studies has been renamed The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies in recognition of an extraordinary gift commitment from Lesley H. Collins (’83SVC) and William L. Collins ’76C, ’12HON.

As generous St. John’s University alumni, Lesley and Bill are especially devoted to their alma mater. Their years at St. John’s prepared them to be successful in their chosen careers, while instilling the important Vincentian philosophy of making a difference in the lives of others. For decades, they have demonstrated that and more to the St. John’s family. The personal support of Lesley and Bill, and alumni like them, fills me with gratitude and pride and helps the University remain faithful to our founding mission.

In this issue of The President’s Newsletter, you will read about our incoming first-year class and how the University continues to attract some of the best and brightest high school students from across the country and around the world. The academic profile of our incoming students continues to improve; St. John’s remains a sought-after destination for students both inside and outside of our primary recruiting market.

Our efforts to ensure student success have proven to be successful as the four-year graduation rate for the 2015 entering class of full-time, baccalaureate degree-seeking, first-time students is the highest in 30 years, when the University began tracking this information.

I invite you to get to know some of the new members of our leadership team, including our new Chair of the Board of Trustees—William J. Janetschek ’84CBA, ’17HON; new Trustee, Catherine M. Verrelli ’00TCB, ’01MS; new Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Simon Geir Møller, Ph.D.; new Dean of The School of Education, David L. Bell, Ed.D., and our new Men’s Head Basketball Coach, Mike Anderson.

Over the last few years, positive organizational changes implemented at St. John's and a steadfast commitment to our Strategic Priorities have helped us to rapidly respond to new challenges in higher education while remaining true to our founding Catholic and Vincentian mission. Being faithful to the mission is what enables St. John’s University to be the life-changing institution that it has been for almost 150 years. With your continued support, our mission will endure, thrive, and grow—just as St. John’s University has done since its humble beginnings in 1870.


Bobby Gempesaw signature




Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D.

    In This Issue

    Dr. Gempesaw

    2019 State of the University Address Focuses on Advancing Mission, Strategic Priorities, and Change

    Speaking to an audience of students, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, members of the Vincentian community, and members of the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors, Dr. Gempesaw delivered his fifth State of the University Address, setting high expectations for the University in the future.

    St. John’s University Receives Historic Gift from Lesley H. and William L. Collins

    St. John’s University Receives Historic Gift from Lesley H. and William L. Collins

    History was made with the exciting news of a new era at St. John’s University. At a reception in midtown Manhattan on September 11, Dr. Gempesaw announced that with the unanimous approval of the Board of Trustees, the College of Professional Studies is renamed The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies, effective immediately.

    St. Augustine shot from below

    St. John's Welcomes New Board and Academic Leadership

    The University proudly announced the election of William J. Janetschek ’84CBA, ’17HON as Chair of the St. John’s University Board of Trustees; the election of Catherine M. Verrelli ’00TCB, ’01MS to the Board of Trustees; the appointment of Simon Geir Møller, Ph.D., to the role of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; and the appointment of David L. Bell, Ed.D., to the role of Dean of The School of Education.

    Stage at Queens Campus Commencement

    Commencement Season Celebrated

    St. John’s University’s annual Commencement Exercises, held in May and June on the Queens, NY, and Rome, Italy, campuses, featured speakers who highlighted the virtues of hard work, leadership, and service—having modeled these principles in their own lives for recent graduates.

    2019 Commencement Student Address Beverly Danquah

    From the Bronx to Queens to Ghana: How Beverly Danquah ’19CPS Discovered the World and Her Calling at St. John's

    As Beverly Danquah ’19CPS strode to the podium to deliver the student address during the 2019 St. John’s University Queens Undergraduate Commencement Exercises, there was only one thing on her mind: “I bet my family will be surprised,” she confided in a post-Commencement conversation.

    St. John’s University Board of Trustees Honored for Stewardship

    Board of Trustees Honored For Exemplary Leadership

    At the National Conference on Trusteeship held in Orlando, FL, on April 14–16—an event sponsored by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB)—the St. John’s University Board of Trustees was presented with the AGB John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership.

    The Founders Society Eighth Induction Ceremony and Dinner honors generous benefactors and celebrates the St. John’s family

    The Founders Society Induction Ceremony Honors Generous Benefactors and Celebrates the St. John’s Family

    A gathering of many of the most generous supporters of St. John’s University was held in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, when nearly 80 people attended The Founders Society Eighth Induction Ceremony and Dinner.

    St. Augustine through flowers

    Spring at St. John's

    Spring at St. John's included Grand Alumni Homecoming Weekend; a major win for the eSports team; a 2019 Telly Award; the NJ Alumni BBQ; a food tasting event; a service plunge to Lourdes, France; and a technology grant for the Staten Island campus.

    Students standing up and clapping

    New Students and Faculty Begin Their St. John’s Journey

    Carnesecca Arena was awash with red as St. John’s University welcomed more than 3,000 first-year and transfer students from the Queens and Staten Island, NY, campuses at its annual New Student Convocation.

    Female student mover carrying Macy bags

    Move-In Weekend Marks Two Decades of On-Campus Living

    As St. John’s University celebrates its 20th anniversary of Residence Life, 3,119 new and returning students, along with their families, were welcomed in late summer to housing facilities on the institution’s campuses in Queens and Staten Island, NY.

    Mike Cragg

    We Are New York’s Team

    In sports news, the new Men’s Basketball coach looks forward to action on the hardwood, Men’s Tennis claims the BIG EAST Conference title, the softball team is named BIG EAST regular season champions, Coach Blankmeyer celebrates another winning season, Rachel Daly ’16CPS plays on a world stage, and student-athletes are honored for academic success.

    Coach Anderson headshot

    New Men’s Basketball Coach Brings Winning Ways to Red Storm

    One of the most successful men’s basketball coaches over the past 20 years—and one of only four current Division I coaches with at least 15 years of experience to never finish a season below .500—Mike Anderson was named Head Coach of the St. John's Red Storm in April.

    Advancement Update

    A total of $25.9 million in annual gifts was raised from generous alumni, parents, faculty, employees, and friends during the 2018–19 academic year.

    More than 10,000 alumni supported and engaged with St. John’s University in 2018–19.

    The McCallen Society for planned giving reached 703 members in fiscal year (FY) 2019, a gain of 5.5% from FY 2018.

    More than 1,500 individual donors made leadership gifts to the University in FY 2019, exceeding the FY 2018 count. 

    As part of the University's Partners for Student Success Scholarship Program, the Maurice R. Greenberg Scholarship Fund provided $525K in scholarship funds to 31 students in the School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.