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The McCallen Society Strengthens Alumni Bonds While Providing a Secure Future

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Members of The McCallen Society gathered at the Queens campus on Wednesday, September 13, for an annual celebration that recognizes the exceptional generosity of alumni who provide St. John’s University with the resources to serve future generations of students.

The Society is named after former University Treasurer Rev. Thomas J. McCallen, C.M. Membership is accorded to benefactors who include the University in their estate plans, providing support for facilities enhancement, scholarships, technology, and other academic resources that are vital to student success.  

The event featured a special Mass at St. Thomas More Church and a luncheon in the D’Angelo Center. Mass was celebrated by Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M. ’70C, Executive Vice President for Mission.

President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., thanked McCallen Society members for their continued generosity. He also shared highlights about current students. This fall, St. John’s once again welcomed the largest freshman class of any Catholic college in the United States. Among the nation’s top 20 Catholic institutions of higher education, the University enrolls the highest proportion of students from low-income families.

“That should not be a surprise,” said Dr. Gempesaw. “That was the mission given by our founder 147 years ago, which was to provide a solid education for the sons and daughters of the underprivileged. Fast forward 147 years, that mission has not changed. We have remained steadfast on that.”

Last year, the University spent $215 million to provide financial assistance to 96 percent of undergraduate students, Dr. Gempesaw said. That figure, he noted, represents 40 percent of the University’s operating budget. St. John’s commitment to students of all economic backgrounds underscores the value of gifts from McCallen members, he added.

“This past year, you—our distinguished McCallen Society members—contributed over $4.4 million dollars,” said Dr. Gempesaw. In his three years as President, he added, McCallen Society members have contributed more than $10 million to the University.

“Your generosity reflects our shared commitment to the continuing and long-term strength of this University, which provided so many of us, and so many others, with the knowledge, skills, and values to serve as ethical members of our professions, our communities, and our world,” observed John P. Tutunjian ’59C, a member of the Society. “At this very minute, future McCallen members are sitting in class, studying in the library, engaged in building their own futures—as we, their predecessors, once did.”

Joshua Ossai, a Finance major in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business who will graduate this year, spoke about how the Society made it possible for him to attend St. John’s. “Your generosity has contributed greatly to the social and academic atmosphere at St. John’s University,” he said. “On behalf of the students here and the student body, I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ for all of your kindness.”