Taking St. John’s to New Heights
I began my presidency on July 1, 2014, at St. John’s University (NY) and have just completed my first 120 days on the job. During the last four months, I have embarked on a listening tour to hear from those who care about St. John’s. I met with various members of the St. John’s community including Board members, students, faculty, staff, administrators, and over 300 of our alumni and supporters in various meetings, lunches, dinners and receptions.
I have learned that St. John’s faculty members are notable for their outstanding scholarly and teaching accomplishments and their commitment to service that is consistent with our university mission. Our students possess both the motivation to learn and the compassion to serve those in need. There is much to celebrate, but a great university is never content with the way things are, it seeks to be better. Many of those who I have met strongly expressed that we must elevate St. John’s pride and tradition in academic and athletic excellence to the next level.
During my investiture speech on October 24th, I presented four strategic priorities that will engage the entire university community in institutional improvement so that when St. John’s reaches its 150th anniversary in 2020, it will be an even stronger and better institution than it is today. These are the priorities, which I gathered during my listening tour, that the members of St. John’s university community want us to focus on moving forward:
To improve recruitment, retention, graduation rates, and career placement to ensure a student success pipeline.
To recruit, retain and recognize the best faculty, staff and administrators.
To enhance the teaching and learning environment.
To expand community and global partnerships.
Although the challenges in higher education today may seem daunting, St. John’s University can overcome them and continue to thrive as one of the country’s premier Catholic universities. We will face these challenges with a dynamic, entrepreneurial and strategic mindset. St. John’s is a university that prides itself on providing access and opportunity to students particularly those with higher economic need with a tradition of exceeding expectations.
As students prepare for life after graduation, we will continue to engage them as alumni who can serve as mentors and role models for the next generation of students. In this manner, we not only engage them during their college experience but engage them for life. Joining St. John’s is a lifetime engagement.
As I have reminded our faculty, staff, and administrators – “We don’t come to St. John’s every day just because it’s our job – we come here to transform the lives of our students, one individual at a time. Every student counts.”#
Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., is the President of St. John’s University.