During this time of Holy Week, we are confronted with the fragility of our human lives as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In response to the disruption and uncertainty caused by this global public health crisis, St. John’s had to make hard decisions and to implement unprecedented measures to protect both the health and safety of the University community.
The past few weeks have been very challenging and the months ahead will present new issues that will test our resolve. Our Catholic and Vincentian values and educational mission to ensure the success of our students will guide us in making these difficult decisions. As it has done for almost 150 years, St. John’s University will persist and persevere with courage, commitment and compassion in the face of challenges and obstacles.
Especially in these tough times, we must continue to support each other. I draw inspiration and motivation from the daily updates which describe how our faculty, staff and administrators are finding new and innovative ways to remotely serve our students no matter where they are, how our students are remaining active and engaged in their studies, and how our alumni and employees are generously contributing to the Emergency Funds for Students.
I am encouraged by the inspirational messages that many of our University leaders have communicated to their respective units in an effort to connect all of us while we continue to work remotely. I take pride in the work of several of our colleagues who have volunteered their services to provide much-needed assistance to hospitals, health care workers, and to the community in a true spirit of service that is a distinctive hallmark of our University. I am also thankful to those St. John’s employees who have been reporting to campus to ensure the safety, academic and business continuity, and operations of the University so the majority of us can work in the safety of our homes.
The journey of Holy Week leads us to the darkness of Good Friday, followed by the joyful redemption of Easter Sunday. Let us find hope in this journey – that with God’s grace we will emerge from this pandemic stronger in faith, more resilient, and more compassionate especially to those most in need. I look forward to the day, hopefully, sooner rather than later, that together we can all safely reconvene on our beautiful campuses. Until then, be assured that you are in my thoughts and prayers.
Conrado "Bobby" Gempesaw, Ph.D., President