We are pleased to share some of the topics, highlights, and action items discussed at the most recent meeting of the St. John’s University Board of Trustees held on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. We look forward to sharing with you additional information on these and other initiatives in the months ahead.
Fall 2022 Enrollment Update
Simon G. Møller, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, provided a presentation on key strategic recruitment initiatives as well as a current student enrollment update. While not yet finalized, we expect a strong first-year entering class of approximately 2,900 students, marking a nine percent increase from 2021-22 (as well as an 11 percent increase in transfer student enrollment). The incoming fall 2022 class has an average GPA of 90. An overwhelming majority of students come from our primary market, and, the racially/ethnically diverse class includes students from 35 states and 37 countries. In addition, we are pleased to report that the number of resident students increased compared to last year. Across the United States, and particularly in the northeast, college recruitment and enrollment are increasingly competitive; shifts in population trends, demographics, and greater tuition discounting present ongoing challenges. Tuition-dependent institutions like St. John’s must remain deliberate in our recruitment strategies and budget decision making.
Increased faculty engagement in the recruitment process and new spring/summer engagement strategies and yield initiatives such as “Summer at St. John’s: Explore and More” student/parent engagement programs were implemented and proved to be effective. Recruitment efforts were aided by Marketing & Communication efforts designed to support the St. John's brand.
St. Vincent Health Sciences Center Update
Brian Baumer, Associate Vice President of Campus Facilities and Services, gave a presentation on the progress to design and construct the 69,000-square-foot St. Vincent Health Sciences Center. Upon completion in fall 2024, the building will be comprised of: Simulation spaces, Flex labs, Faculty spaces, Classrooms, and Anatomy & Chemistry labs, and will have a capacity for 300 nursing students and 75 physician assistant students per year. Presently, support for excavation work and preparation of the site is underway to be followed by the laying of the building’s foundation. The University is taking appropriate steps to manage labor and construction costs and supply chain concerns. Efforts to order long-lead items are well underway, and the project estimate of $106M is still being held. The Board of Trustees is confident in the team’s ability to navigate economic and market challenges to deliver a state-of-the art facility on time and within budget.
Strategic Planning Update
The co-chairs of the Strategic Planning Implementation Committee—Sarah Jean Kelly J.D., Vice President for Student Success and Retention Strategy, and Christian P. Vaupel, Ed.D., Vice President for Advancement and University Relations—provided an update on the progress of strategic planning. An Implementation Committee has been formed and charged with identifying priorities and setting metrics and targets for the first two years of the plan. The initial charge is to focus on priorities that will enhance the University’s enrollment management efforts (including admissions, retention, persistence, and graduation), as well as other revenue generating activities (such as fundraising and grants/sponsored research). Committee members meet regularly and have preliminarily identified action items for years one and two. These priority action items will be reviewed with the Senior Management Group (SMG). This information will then be presented to the Board of Trustees at the December 2022 meeting. The Committee will begin the work of implementing action items and measuring progress after that meeting. As a reminder to the University community, the five foundational pillars of the strategic plan are: The Student Experience; Academic Distinction; Mission, Equity and Inclusion; Developing and Maximizing Institutional Resources; and Amplifying the St. John’s Brand.
Equity and Inclusion Update
Rachel Pereira, Ed.D., Esq., Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, provided an update on her first 90 days at St. John’s, as well as ongoing efforts, new initiatives, and projects intended to enhance and advance efforts, policies, and practices that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism. The Office of Equity and Inclusion encompasses the Equity and Inclusion Council, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Inclusivity Resource Center, Academic Center for Equity and Inclusion, and RESPECT. Dr. Pereira’s report included a summary of recent events held, ongoing programs, and forward-looking ideas. In the brief time since Dr. Pereira has been on campus, she has been actively engaging in listening sessions, working on assessments, and implementing best practices. Dr. Pereira has been working with numerous internal departments to ensure Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts in their everyday operations.
The Board of Trustees appointed Rev. John Maher, C.M., Superior, St. Vincent’s Seminary, to serve on the St. John’s Board of Governors in addition to serving on the Board of Trustees. Additionally, the Board of Trustees elected two new members to the Board of Governors:
Akua G. Frempong, CPA ’07TCB, ’08MS, Tax Partner – Global Compliance and Reporting, EY
Adam A. Laitsas ’07TCB, Senior Vice President, Head of Marketing Strategy, Madison Square Garden Sports
During a reception and dinner that followed the meeting, Trustees had the opportunity to hear from senior Ethan Burrell, the President of Student Government Incorporated (SGI), on his own St. John’s journey as well as some perspectives of students he represents as head of Student Government.
The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held in December 2022.