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Presidential Search

Page last updated 11/24/2020

St. John's 18th President

Fr. Shanley

Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. Named President

Dominican priest and noted academic previously served as President of Providence College.

About St. John's 18th President

Updates and Messages from the Search Chair

I am very pleased to report that the St. John’s Presidential Search Committee has made tremendous progress over the past few months. Based on the information, insights, opinions, and data offered by the University community, the Search Committee finalized the leadership profile for the position in July. It was widely distributed among leaders in higher education nationally and internationally. Working with our consultants at WittKieffer, the Committee reached out to more than 2,200 people to encourage applications and to generate nominations and referrals. In addition, we advertised in more than a dozen venues to ensure that the opportunity would be widely known. Combined with direct contact with more than 1,600 people to advocate on behalf of the University and the presidency, those efforts have resulted in a highly diverse pool of 66 official candidates.

Last week, the Search Committee met to review the candidate pool and to choose from among it those candidates whom we wish to meet in person. We came to a strong consensus around a group of "semi-finalists" to be interviewed during the next few weeks. The Committee is particularly pleased to report that this group of candidates reflects the diversity of the St. John’s community in addition to providing us with extremely significant leadership experience. We are confident that the outcome of these conversations will be a compelling group of finalists that will be presented to the Board of Trustees.

As you know from earlier conversations and communications, the entirety of the search process will be conducted in the strictest confidence. That methodology is having the intended impact in regard to the overall strength of the candidate pool and the abilities and experience of the people we have selected for interviews. We are turning our attention now to the process for interviewing semi-finalists and then finalists, and you will hear more about that in subsequent communications.  For the moment, please rest assured that our efforts are exactly on time and on plan.

Finally, please accept my thanks and those of the Search Committee and the Board of Trustees for your engagement with this process. Our success to this point reflects the efforts and the involvement of our entire community, and both the Search Committee and the Board wish to express our gratitude.

Thank you for all that you do for St. John’s.

—William J. Janetschek '84CBA, '17HON
Chair, Board of Trustees

Following President Gempesaw’s announcement of his decision to retire at the end of his current term on June 30, 2021, the national search for the 18th President of St. John’s University has commenced with the formation of the Presidential Search Committee.

As Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, I truly appreciate the willingness of those selected to serve in this important capacity. The search committee includes selected current and emeriti Trustees, members of the Vincentian community, senior administrators, students, and faculty. 

To assist the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee in this critical undertaking, we have engaged the services of the national executive search firm WittKieffer. One of our first tasks is to develop the position profile that describes the qualities, experience, and expertise of the ideal candidate. We will, at an appropriate time, seek input from the University community on a number of pertinent questions, including

  • What are the most important challenges and opportunities to be faced by the 18th President of St. John’s?
  • In what ways should the 18th President shape the academic experience and the living, learning, and professional environment at the University?
  • Which skills, values, and characteristics are most essential for the successful leadership of the University?

The Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee are committed to a timely and transparent search process that ensures a seamless transition to new leadership for St. John’s. We invite you to nominate potential candidates by submitting via email your recommendations to [email protected].

Reporting directly to the St. John’s Board of Trustees, the President is the Chief Executive Officer of the University. The President is responsible for the academic and administrative leadership of the University and is entrusted with the 150-year legacy of its Catholic and Vincentian mission of providing quality and affordable education and serving those most in need. The President of St. John’s holds a special platform of leadership in New York and in the world of higher education. Heading the second-largest Catholic university in the nation provides a unique opportunity to lead an important institution and have a public voice in the issues facing higher education and our larger society today.

Thank you for your continued commitment to and support for St. John’s University.

—William J. Janetschek '84CBA, '17HON
Chair, Board of Trustees

Presidential Search Committee Members

Rev. Elmer Bauer III, C.M. ’02MBA, ’17HON 
Member of the Board of Trustees
Provincial Treasurer, Eastern Province, Congregation of the Mission

Peter P. D'Angelo ’78MBA, ’06HON 
Chair Emeritus, Board of Trustees
President, Caxton Alternative Management, LP 

Anita Gomez-Palacio ’65Ed, ’89PD 
Member of the Board of Trustees
Retired Executive Director of Operations, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators

Very Rev. Stephen Grozio, C.M.
Provincial Vice Chair of the Board
Provincial Superior, Eastern Province, Congregation of the Mission

William Janetschek ’84CBA, ’17HON
Chair of the Board of Trustees
Retired Partner and CFO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P.

Margaret M. Keane ’81C, ’87MBA, ’19HON 
Elected Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees
Chief Executive Officer, Synchrony

Sr. Carol Keehan, D.C. ’01HON
Member of the Board of Trustees
Retired President and Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Health Association

Nada Llewellyn, Esq. 
Liaison to Search Committee Chair
Associate Vice President Human Resources, Chief Diversity Officer and Deputy General Counsel

Carolyn Madaio
Liaison to Search Committee Chair, Nonvoting Member
Presidential Assistant for Administration, St. John’s University

Simon G. Møller, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Joseph Oliva, Esq. ’91CBA, ’94L
Vice President for Administration, Secretary, and General Counsel

Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, C.M. ’70C
Executive Vice President for Mission

Sharon Hewitt Watkins, C.P.A., CGMA
Vice President for Business Affairs, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer

Roger Guevara
President, Staten Island Campus, Student Government, Inc.
The Peter J. Tobin College of Business

Patrick Kohn
President, Queens Campus, Student Government, Inc.
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences                   

Natalie P. Byfield, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Sharon See, Pharm.D., BCPS, FCCP
Clinical Professor and Assistant Chair, Department of Clinical Health Professions  
College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
St. John’s University NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative

Joan Tropnas, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director of Health and Human Services Program
The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies

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Founded in 1870, St. John’s is a Catholic and Vincentian university that prepares students for personal and professional success in today’s global society.