The President's Newsletter

Vol. 2 | Issue 2 | February 2017

Letter from the President

Conrado "Bobby" Gempesaw, Ph.D.

As we commence the spring 2017 semester, I would like to share with you some of the events, accomplishments, and initiatives that have occurred since the beginning of the academic year in the fall 2016 semester. Their significance lies in a common purpose—to grow stronger as an institution committed to student success both in the classroom and beyond.

This issue of the President’s Newsletter highlights the President’s Dinner, which raised more than $2.4 million in scholarship funds while honoring leaders of service in the Vincentian tradition. It provides an update on the progress of the Strategic Priorities Review Team (SPRT), which continues to ensure that we remain on track to accomplish our institutional initiatives. There is also a recap of the Vincentian Higher Education Conference, “Beyond the Bicentennial: The Promise of Vincentian Higher Education,” which was part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Vincentian mission in the United States. I am pleased to announce the addition of two new senior leaders, Anton Goff, Director of Athletics, and Chris Vaupel, Vice President for Advancement and University Relations. Both individuals have the background and experience to give us confidence in ensuring the success of our athletics, advancement, and university relations programs and initiatives.

Our continued progress in enrollment, retention, placement, and advisement inspires us to continue our efforts in ensuring that our students are prepared for the challenges they will face in their personal and professional lives.

I thank the St. John’s community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends for their commitment to our mission as a Catholic and Vincentian University. For their support, I remain extremely grateful.


Bobby Gempesaw signature




Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D.

    In This Issue

    President’s Dinner Raises $2.4 Million for Student Scholarships

    Since its inception in 1998, St. John’s University’s President’s Dinner has honored friends, alumni, and other leaders who embrace the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul by striving to make the world a better place.

    Through Celebratory Events, St. John's Alumni Take Center Stage

    In keeping with St. John’s continuing efforts to engage its vast—and loyal—alumni network, the University hosts a number of events that highlight the Vincentian mission, celebrate generous giving, and foster a strong connection to alma mater.

    St. John Hall

    Blueprint for Progress: Strategic Priorities Drive New Initiatives

    Students who enroll at St. John’s have a wide variety of reasons for choosing to earn their degrees at a leading Catholic and Vincentian University. Whatever their aspirations, however, they share a common expectation—that of an academically engaging and supportive environment to ensure their success.

    Improved Freshman Retention Reflects Growing Campus–Community Partnerships

    For two years in a row, St. John’s enrolled two of the largest freshman classes in the University’s history—3,253 students in 2015 and 3,248 students in 2016. Retaining those students for their full four years is a top priority.


    Vice President for Advancement and University Relations Appointed

    Following a national search, St. John’s University has appointed Christian P. Vaupel, Ed.D., as Vice President for Advancement and University Relations.

    Exterior shot of Peter J. Tobin College of Business with students walking down the stairs

    With Major Gift, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business Reaches New Heights

    Taking The Peter J. Tobin College of Business to the next level as a nationally recognized, top-tier business school, Trustee Joseph H. Schwartz ’70C, ’72MBA, ’09HON and his wife, Maria, have made a major gift commitment to establish the Joseph H. and Maria C. Schwartz Endowed Fund at St. John’s University.

    Female Faculty Member teaching

    Celebrating Faculty Excellence and Achievement

    At St. John’s University, academic excellence starts in the classroom with knowledgeable and dedicated faculty working to engage and motivate students to reach new heights

    High school valedictorians Jordan, Jennifer, Brandon, Belley, and Scarly. Amy is not pictured.

    Top Students Take Their Place in St. John's Freshman Class

    This fall, St. John’s enrolled the largest freshman class at any Catholic college or university in the nation. Many of the 3,248 entering students have already distinguished themselves academically, including the young men and women featured below who graduated as high school valedictorians.

    Dr. Gempesaw, Very Rev. Mavric, Rev. Maher, and Rev. Holtschneider at the Bicentennial Conference.

    Beyond the Bicentennial Conference: The Promise of Vincentian Higher Education

    Continuing the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first Vincentian missionaries to the United States, representatives from St. John’s University, DePaul University, and Niagara University came together to discuss the future of Vincentian higher education at a conference convened in New York City on November 11–12.

    St. John’s Strengthens Partnerships with Local Catholic High Schools

    Mirtelle Mendoza ’20CPS has attended Catholic schools her entire life. A graduate of Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, NY, she came to St. John’s University for one main reason: to grow in her faith while experiencing a quality education.

    Strategic Priorities

      At his formal Investiture as President of St. John’s in October 2014, Dr. Gempesaw outlined the following strategic priorities to build an even stronger University:

      • Ensure Student Success
      • Recuit, recognize, and retain the best faculty, staff, and administators.
      • Enhance the teaching and learning environment
      • Expand global and community partnerships 

      Enrollment and Career Placement Highlights

      • This fall, St. John’s enrolled 3,248 new undergraduates—the largest freshman class of any Catholic college or university in America. The entering class included 12 valedictorians and salutatorians and more than 500 students who joined the Honors Program.
      • Enrollment from Catholic high schools increased by 23 percent on top of last year’s record 27 percent increase.
      • The Staten Island campus enrolled 245 freshman students, an increase of 53 percent from last year.
      • The University admitted 415 transfer students, an 11 percent increase over last year.
      • New graduate enrollment rose to its highest level in three years, with 1,461 entering students representing an eight percent increase over 2014.
      • Several of the University’s individual schools and colleges have seen a significant increase in first-time graduate enrollment over 2015: a nine percent rise for St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; 27 percent for the College of Professional Studies; 20 percent for The Peter J. Tobin College of Business; and six percent for St. John’s School of Law.
      • In addition, freshman retention continues to rise, with 84 percent of last year’s students returning to St. John’s this academic year. This is the highest retention rate achieved since 1998.
      • A record 786 prequalified students are actively participating in SJU’s chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success—a 31 percent increase over last year.
      • University Career Services partnered with Joseph A. Tarantino ’80CBA, President and CEO of Protiviti Inc., to host a joint service project through the company’s “I on Hunger” initiative. More than 80 volunteers—SJU faculty, administrators, and students, along with Protiviti employees—packed 22,860 meals.
      • Piloted in January 2016, the “C3: Creating Career Connections” career immersion (formerly externship) program has grown to include 28 employer hosts this year. The program has expanded to include one-day job shadowing in addition to virtual Career Conversations programs.
      • University Career Services launched the pilot cohort for the Aspire Mentor Program in October, pairing 70 ambitious upperclassmen with successful alumni for individual career development mentoring. The mentors provide guidance and support to help students to develop and enhance specific career competencies. 
      • The total cumulative GPA for new students in the competitive Clinical Psychology doctoral program is 3.7.
      • The Staten Island campus hosted 889 students from 12 local high schools at CareerCon 2017, an event coordinated by the campus’s Career Services team in partnership with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and New York City’s Department of Education. Visiting students toured the campus and met with faculty, staff, and administrators while exploring professional opportunities with 50 employers.
      • This spring, more than 1,500 St. John’s students sought internships and full-time employment with nearly 150 employers who participated in a variety of career fairs at the Queens and Staten Island campuses.
      • Twenty-nine employer and alumni guests provided career guidance to St. John’s students at three niche Industry Nights (healthcare, government and nonprofit, and entrepreneurship) hosted by University Career Services. 

      Advancement Highlights

      • As of December 31, 2016, St. John’s has received $15,566,048 in contributions from alumni and friends for the 2017 academic year—the highest June to December giving total in the University’s history.
      • On Giving Tuesday (November 29), St. John’s set a one-day giving record for the University, with 1,513 donors making gifts in a single day.
      • The GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) networking reception at the Manhattan campus on September 15 drew more than 175 participants, including several past and present members of the Board of Trustees, senior administrators, faculty, staff, and students.

      Mission Highlights

      • St. John’s is the 10th university to become a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Global Campus, with nearly 200 students, faculty, staff, and administrators in attendance on November 28 as Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President, signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Carolyn Woo, Ph.D., President and CEO of CRS.
      • The Vincentian Institute for Social Action at St. John’s officially launched the biannual, peerreviewed Journal of Vincentian Social Action (JoVSA), which engages the global community on issues of poverty and social injustice.
      • Supporting the University’s Strategic Priorities Action Plan, a three-part, six-hour Mission Orientation training program was inaugurated for SJU employees, with sessions covering “Being Catholic,” “Being Vincentian,” and “St. John’s as Catholic and Vincentian.”
      • Through the support of a generous alumnus, the St. John’s University Food Insecurity Fund was established this semester to assist students who are temporarily experiencing difficulty obtaining nutritious meals on a consistent basis.
      • Celebrating St. John’s 15th annual University Service Day on September 24, approximately 2,000 students, employees, and alumni participated in volunteer efforts throughout New York City’s five boroughs and at St. John’s academic locations around the world.
      • Nearly 3,000 students, faculty, staff, and alumni attended “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” the Founder’s Week Academic Lecture presented by Robert Putnam, Ph.D., a best-selling author and Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University.
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