In the spirit of information sharing and with a commitment to fostering openness among the St. John’s University community, we are pleased to share some of the topics, highlights, and action items discussed at the most recent meeting of the Board of Trustees held on Wednesday, October 6, 2021. We look forward to regularly sharing with you additional and timely information on these and other initiatives in the months ahead.
Simon G. Møller, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs provided a presentation on key strategic recruitment initiatives and a current student enrollment update. While not yet finalized, we anticipate a strong first-year entering class of approximately 2,704 students marking a 30 percent increase from 2020-21 with 621 more first-year students than last year and a 21 percent increase in transfer students year-to-date. The fall 2021 class has an average GPA of 90 and SAT/ACT of 1201/26. An overwhelming majority of students come from our primary market and the racially/ethnically diverse class includes students from 37 states and 54 countries. Across the United States, college recruitment and enrollment are increasingly competitive—especially during an ongoing global pandemic—and shifts in population trends and demographics in the highly competitive northeast present greater challenges. Tuition-dependent institutions like St. John’s must remain nimble in our recruitment strategies and to that end enhanced marketing and communications and focused financial leveraging efforts are being implemented.
Brian Baumer, Associate Vice President of Campus Facilities and Services provided a presentation on the plans underway to design and construct a 67,000 square foot Health Sciences Center where St. Vincent Hall is currently located. The new building will house programs for our anticipated Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN). The new nursing program is expected to enroll its first class in the fall of 2022 and therefore these students will need access to the simulation space starting in the fall of 2024 when the building is scheduled to open. The new building is expected to house state-of-the-art simulation space such as a hospital room, nurse’s station, and maternity room, as well as general classrooms, anatomy and chemistry labs, and space for Radiologic Sciences and Physician Assistant programs. The project is budgeted at $78 million which includes the demolition of St. Vincent Hall. Presently, the project is on time with demolition scheduled to begin in February 2022 and construction in June 2022. Growing economic concerns about increases in labor and construction costs and supply chain challenges were discussed and a current market value engineering process for the project is currently underway. Despite external forces, the Board of Trustees is confident in the team’s ability to navigate economic and market challenges to deliver a Health Sciences Center that our students will enjoy for years to come.
André McKenzie, Ed.D., Vice Provost and Interim Chief Diversity Officer, and Candice Roberts, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Division of Mass Communications and Director of Communication Arts shared a presentation on ongoing efforts and outreach to the LGBTQ+ community at St. John’s. The presentation provided a summary of progress made to date and discussed new ideas to create and sustain an open and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students, faculty, administrators, and staff. The Board of Trustees continues to work to collaborate on policies and projects to fully integrate LGBTQ+ community members into St. John’s life. Through partnerships and collaborations with key University offices and divisions, the proposed LGBTQ+ Center will provide support in five main areas: Education Initiatives, Policies and Procedures, Event Programming, Student Support, and Institutional Climate.
The tri-chairs of the Strategic Planning Committee—Lucy Pesce, Executive Director For Mission, André McKenzie, Ed.D., Vice Provost and Interim Chief Diversity Officer, and Christian P. Vaupel, Ed.D., Vice President for Advancement and University Relations—provided an update on the progress to date of strategic planning. The Strategic Planning leadership team described and discussed the five foundational pillars of the strategic plan and a timeline to deliver a completed plan to the Board of Trustees in the spring of 2022. 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.
The Board of Trustees welcomed new members:
James Christmas ’70CBA, ’10HON
Retired Chairman and CEO, KCS Energy
Lead Outside Director of Halcon Resources
Director, Rice Energy and Yuma Energy
Robert J. Cruz ’96SVC
Senior Vice President National Branch Officer
Director of Field Operations
Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., Ed.D.
President, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU)
Rev. John T. Maher, C.M.
Superior, St. Vincent’s Seminary
Finally, the Board of Trustees approved Trustee Emeritus status for Rev. Gregory Cozzubo, C.M. and Trustee Emerita status for Sr. Carol Keehan, D.C. Professor Emeritus status was awarded to Joseph A. Giacalone, Ph.D., professor of Economics and Finance in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.