The start of a new academic year always means a chance for a fresh beginning. It is a time to explore new possibilities, set new goals and priorities, and embrace new challenges. At St. John's University, it is important to do this as individuals and as a mission-focused community.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "You cannot step into the same river twice, for other waters are continually flowing on." People and places are never the same. The same is true of our global society. Every day, we change because new experiences shape us. But as John Maxwell once said: “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” We have to do the work to grow, trusting that, as Jesus often said in his parables, God will bring an abundant harvest from small beginnings.
With energy and enthusiasm, we welcome the Class of 2026 and all our returning students to campus. I extend my sincere appreciation to all the members of our community who played a part in recruiting and welcoming our new and returning students. Whether you are a student pursuing higher education, a faculty member preparing our students for future professional success, or an employee working to support our Catholic and Vincentian mission, I am grateful for your contribution to our community.
The start of an academic year also brings new faces to campus. Since May, new leadership positions have been filled by:
As we look forward to the fall semester, I want to reiterate the following updates and announcements.
In mid-May, we broke ground on the new St. Vincent Health Sciences Center. The new 70,000-square-foot building under construction and scheduled to open in Fall 2024, will be the permanent home of the Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) program at St. John’s. Fundraising for this important capital project is supported by leadership-level gifts from the D’Angelo and Davatzes families. The inaugural class of nursing students begins their studies this semester and we look forward to the growth of that program in the years to come.
In mid-August, the University announced the planned phasing out of academic operations at our Staten Island Campus. We plan for a process that will last two more academic years, culminating at the end of the Spring 2024 semester. The decision to take this step followed prayerful reflection and an extensive examination of historic and continuing population and student enrollment trends. Our Staten Island campus has experienced steady decreases in enrollment for decades that were the result of many factors and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Staten Island campus was a thriving community for many years but our time there has run its course. While we lament the passing of an era at St. John’s, we also celebrate and give gratitude for the good work God has done there.
We begin our Fall semester as our country heads into an uncommonly polarized election campaign. My hope and prayer for our University is that we might model the kind of political civility that should be the hallmark of a well-functioning democracy. And as a Catholic and Vincentian University, whatever our political positions might be, let us attend most of all to the needs of the poor, the marginalized, and the vulnerable.
This academic year, let us all commit to taking time to get to know each other; learn from each other’s curiosity and uniqueness; and create moments of kindness, grace, and generosity. Together, let us build the trust and shared community required to cultivate a dynamic teaching and learning environment that allows all people to take personal and intellectual risks to realize their God-given potential.
I am so glad that you are here with us. With great anticipation for the year ahead, I welcome you to our community and remind you that, “WE ARE ST. JOHN’S!” May God bless our university this coming year.