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St. John’s University Celebrates Faculty Excellence

Thursday, January 11, 2018

At a recently held appreciation dinner, newly tenured and promoted faculty were recognized for their professional achievements and commitment to the academic excellence and mission of St. John’s University.

Hosted by Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s, more than 70 attendees including University deans, department chairs, faculty and their families, and senior academic administrators gathered at the Faculty Club on the Queens campus to acknowledge and celebrate newly tenured and promoted faculty for their individual teaching, research, and service.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert A. Mangione, Ed.D., set the tone for the celebratory evening when he said that the University community was “delighted that you all are part of the St. John’s University family.”

The dinner featured two faculty speakers, who recounted their own journeys toward tenure while sharing personal reflections on their experience. Nancy P. Morabito, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in The School of Education, emphasized two major contributors to a successful journey to tenure—passion and support. Dr. Morabito’s current research focuses on in-service and preservice teachers’ understanding of science and how this understanding influences classroom practice.

“My work at St. John’s has been a privilege of pursuing my passion for teaching and research while also engaging in meaningful service both within and beyond the University.” She added, “The path to tenure is like a big multiyear lesson plan, and it is a path that is never traveled alone as it includes the support of family, colleagues, and most especially, the students we all seek to serve.” 

Dohra Ahmad, Ph.D., a Professor and Assistant Chair of the English Department in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who has been teaching at St. John’s University since 2004, also addressed the audience. She described her own personal appreciation for the University’s mission and the New York City location of St. John’s. Dr. Ahmad grew up and studied in New York City, earning her doctoral degree in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

“I always hoped for a tenure-track job at a place like St. John’s University. I feel lucky to be at a historically immigrant-serving institution that truly values diversity, inclusion, and globally oriented research,” Dr. Ahmad said. “St. John’s is a place where students are eager and interested, and where faculty treat each other with decency and respect. This institution cares about its role in the city and the world.”

Dr. Ahmad’s research aims to draw thematic, stylistic, and historical connections among various literary movements of the past century. Describing both her pre- and post-tenure experience, Dr. Ahmad passionately observed how her most recent post-tenure research and projects are often inspired by her current students at St. John’s and issues of the day. Comparing the tenure process to climbing a mountain, Dr. Ahmad remarked, “You have all been climbing a mountain for many years, so sit for a while and enjoy the view—but keep climbing in the direction that you want to go.”

The Faculty Recognition Dinner has now become an annual tradition under the leadership of Dr. Gempesaw, who observed, “One of our Strategic Priorities is to recruit, recognize, and retain the best faculty, staff, and administrators. This dinner is a public testimony to that priority.” 

Emphasizing the critical role of the faculty search committee in the hiring process, Dr. Gempesaw stressed, “Faculty are hired based on their potential and promoted based on performance. Tonight we celebrate the hard work of our faculty, their perseverance, and all of our shared promise to ensure student success.”