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St. John’s New President Visits Campus

Monday, April 14, 2014

As St. John’s University announced his appointment as its 17th president on April 10, Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., was already on his way to visit the Queens campus, eager to speak with students, faculty, and administrators.

Joined by his wife, Clavel Albay Gempesaw, Ph.D., Dr. Gempesaw met with Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., St. John’s current president, before touring the campus. Over the course of the day, Dr. Gempesaw addressed faculty chairs and senior administrators and talked about the personal and professional journey that led him to the University.

“I am honored to have been selected as St. John’s new president and pleased that Clavel and I had the opportunity to be here to begin introducing ourselves to the community,” remarked Dr. Gempesaw. “ It was wonderful to have the chance to meet a number of students today, many of whom share my background as a first-generation immigrant student. I was also very impressed with the commitment of the faculty, deans, and administrators to advance academic excellence at St. John’s, while staying true to the institution’s Vincentian heritage, both of which I believe are critical to the University’s continuing success.”

“The entire St. John’s community was delighted to join Father Levesque in welcoming Drs. Bobby and Clavel Gempesaw to New York City,“ stated Martha K. Hirst, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Treasurer. “Dr. Gempesaw is keenly aware of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for St. John’s. He has conveyed great eagerness and enthusiasm for building on the wonderful legacy of the University as its next president. We are very much looking forward to working together starting on July 1.”

Dr. Gempesaw also accompanied Provost Robert Mangione, Ed.D., R.Ph., to the Taffner Fieldhouse, where students displayed more than 120 poster presentations as part of St. John’s annual Research Month. He stopped at the varied displays, discussing the undergraduate and graduate research projects with the students and their faculty advisors.

“As an academic institution, St. John’s is committed to fostering student and faculty research partnerships,” noted Dr. Mangione. “By talking one-on-one with many that were participating in the presentation, our new president made it clear he is very supportive of this commitment—and truly interested in learning more about SJU by personal interaction with our students and faculty.”

“I was very impressed,” said Jasmine Smith ’14C, an anthropology major who researched the effects of economic policies on local cultures in developing nations. “When I came to present my research, I didn’t expect to meet the new president. It’s a level of communication I appreciate.”

“It was really nice,” said Cecilia Zhang ’14Pharm.D., who explained her research on the effects of painkillers on infants’ digestive tracts. “He seemed genuinely interested in my work, where I was from, and what I was doing after graduation.”

According to Charles Clark, Ph.D., professor of economics and finance in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, the visit meant a great deal to students as well as faculty. “I found it very encouraging,” said Dr. Clark. “It’s wonderful for a new president to take such an early interest in our students’ work.”

Read the official announcement of Dr. Gempesaw’s appointment.