Campus Buildings Honor a Legacy of Commitment

August 19, 2020

Since 1955, St. John’s University’s Queens, NY campus has flourished on a beautiful, tree-lined, 102-acre property located near the highest elevated point in the borough. Over the last 65 years, the University has steadily developed the site to accommodate an ever-growing, diverse student body that has transformed the institution from a commuter school to an international campus with a truly global reach.

In 1936, the Congregation of the Mission (also known as the Vincentians) purchased the Hillcrest Golf Club, intending to move the campus of St. John’s University from its former location of 75 Lewis Avenue in Brooklyn, NY, to the new site. After breaking ground in 1954, St. John Hall opened on the Hillcrest site. It housed St. John’s College (now known as St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences), the original school of the University.

In subsequent years, academic buildings were constructed with names honoring Catholic saints, including St. Vincent de Paul, St. Augustine, St. Albert, and St. Louise de Marillac.

Sullivan Hall, home to The School of Education, is named in honor of Eugene Sullivan ’42C, ’73HON, who was the first layperson to serve as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of St. John’s University. A successful businessman, Mr. Sullivan had a long career with Borden Inc., a former multinational producer of food and beverage products, consumer products, and industrial products. He also served his alma mater as both professor and benefactor. 

In 2004, a freestanding church was built on campus, named for St. Thomas More. It was through the generous support of St. John’s alumnus John (’63C, ’66L, ’93HON) and his wife, Anita Brennan, that the University’s longstanding dream of its own church was realized.

The D’Angelo Center, which opened in December of 2009, is an around-the-clock home for both academics and student life. The 127,000 square-foot building provides a much-enjoyed gathering place for students, expands academic facilities, and serves as a beacon for the campus and surrounding community. 

The center is named for Peter P. (’78MBA, ’06HON) and Margaret LaRosa D’Angelo ’70Ed. Mr. D’Angelo is President of Caxton Alternative Management, LP, and Chair Emeritus of the St. John’s University Board of Trustees, and Mrs. D’Angelo, a current trustee, served as Chairwoman of the Centennial Leadership Committee for The School of Education’s 100th anniversary.

On the Staten Island campus, the Kelleher Center is named in honor of University Trustee and alumnus Denis P. Kelleher ’65CBA, ’91HON, and his wife, Carol. Mr. Kelleher, who founded Wall Street Access, a diversified financial services company, was a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of St. John’s University and also served as Chair Emeritus. The Kelleher Center contains the Kiernan Suite, named in memory of Rev. James Kiernan, C.M., a member of the Board of Trustees of St. John’s University who served as Senior Vice President of the Staten Island, NY, campus.

After nearly 130 years, St. John’s transformed itself from a local school primarily serving students from the New York City area into an international campus with the opening of its Residence Village. Opened in September of 1999, Millennium Hall (now John Cardinal O’Connor Hall), Hillcrest Hall (now Helen and Hugh L. Carey Hall), and Century Hall were the first three residence halls on the Queens campus. Hollis Hall and Briarwood Hall (now, DaSilva Hall) followed in 2000, and Donovan Hall opened its doors in 2002.

Carey Hall is named in honor of Hon. Hugh L. Carey ’42C, ’51L, ’67HON, who began his political career in the US House of Representatives in 1960 and was elected Governor of New York State in 1974. 

DaSilva Hall is named in memory of John DaSilva ’80SVC, a member of the St. John’s University hockey team who died in an automobile accident soon after graduating from the University. The building was named through the generosity of John’s father, Leon R. DaSilva ’99HON. The DaSilva Academic Center on the Staten Island campus, home of The School of Education and most on-campus classrooms, is also named in memory of Mr. DaSilva. The DaSilva Academic Center also contains the SI Bank and Trust Foundation Communications Lab, equipped with cutting-edge graphics, video, and film editing software. 

Donovan Hall is named in honor of Thomas (’55C, ’86HON) and Elizabeth Donovan. Mr. Donovan was Vice Chairman of the Board of Marine Midland Bank and served St. John’s University as Co-Chairman of the Newman Memorial Campaign, an initiative that supported the construction of Newman Memorial Hall on the Queens campus.

William J. Janetschek ’84CBA, ’17HON is a retired Partner and Chief Financial Officer, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P., and Chair of the St. John’s University Board of Trustees. A resident student townhouse, Janetschek House, which is part of the Founders Village on the Queens campus, serves as a tribute to his father, fellow St. John’s alumnus William (Bill) Janetschek, Sr. ’63CBA.

In 2000, Montgoris Dining Hall opened, which offers students full-service dining. Itis named in honor of William (’67CBA, ’88HON) and Margaret Montgoris ’68Ed, who served as national Co-Chairs of the “Capital Campaign for St. John’s—Fulfilling the Dream.” Mr. Montgoris is Retired Chief Operating Officer, The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc.

Formerly known as Alumni Hall, Carnesecca Arena, built in 1961 and currently serving as the home court for St. John’s University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, recognizes Men’s Basketball Head Coach Lou Carnesecca ’50C, ’60GEd, ’00HON. Coach Carnesecca is a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer; his exceptional accomplishments at St. John’s include 18 seasons of 20 or more wins. 

In addition to Carnesecca Arena, St. John’s University has built many facilities to support the University’s varied and successful athletic programs. Taffner Field House is named in honor of Donald (’53C, ’89HON) and Eleanor Taffner ’94HON, both longtime supporters of the University’s athletic programs. 

Jack Kaiser Stadium honors John W. “Jack” Kaiser ’49C, a former St. John’s baseball great and a legend in professional and amateur baseball.Coach Kaiser achieved a remarkable record as Head Baseball Coach at St. John’s University, earning 366 career wins while leading his teams to 11 postseason appearances and three appearances in the College World Series. Coach Kaiser was instrumental in the formation of the BIG EAST Conference.

Belson Soccer Stadium, home of the men’s and women’s soccer teams, is named in honor of Jerome (’48L, ’80HON) and Maxine Belson ’98HON. Mr. Belson was a former member of the Board of Trustees of St. John’s University and was known for his work in the development of nonprofit housing for members of various labor unions. 

Murray House, the Vincentian Residence on the Queens campus, is named for Rev. John B. Murray, C.M. He was a Professor of Psychology who taught at the University for more than 40 years.

Today, on the eve of its 150th anniversary, St. John’s University constantly upgrades both longstanding and new facilities—intending to keep its students competitive and comfortable in an environment that fosters their success. Its most successful students choose to honor the institution that formed them by making sure St. John’s can continue its mission well into the 21st century and beyond. It is only fitting that the institution has ensured their names will be forever linked with the academic and athletic buildings that carry out that sacred mission.