In State of the University Address, St. John’s President Highlights Progress and Opportunity

In his third annual State of the University Address, President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., shared with the St. John’s community highlights from the past year that reflect the University’s continuing success at enhancing the educational experience for all its students.

Dr. Gempesaw spoke to students, faculty, staff, and alumni in the newly renovated Marillac Hall Auditorium on the Queens, NY, campus. The University community also was able to view the event via online streaming video.

The theme of the address, “Accelerating the Momentum for Change,” reflected the University’s advances to date and plans for the future.

“We have established momentum during the last three years,” Dr. Gempesaw told the University community, “because of your hard work and commitment to our strategic priorities.”

This fall, the University enrolled a freshman class of more than 2,950 students—nearly a third coming from Catholic high schools. This was the largest entering freshman class of any Catholic college or university in the nation.

In addition, this year’s freshman class is an academically gifted one, with an average SAT score of approximately 1150, an ACT average of 25, and a GPA of 90.

“St. John’s has had a remarkable record of providing access to higher education for young women and men who might not otherwise be able to afford college,” he said during his address. “However, it is not enough that we provide student access—we must also focus on student success.”

That commitment is evidenced by the University’s recent retention rates, which have risen by over nine percent since the 2011-2012 academic year. Career placement numbers are also strong: 94.3 percent of the class of 2016 were employed or enrolled for advanced study within six months of graduation.

Outstanding professors are critical to student success, Dr. Gempesaw noted. St. John’s commitment to recruit and hire a diverse faculty is represented by the 112 new faculty members that have joined the University since 2015 and the 45 planned for fall 2018.

The President also gave updates on some of the more than 70 renovations and technology improvements across the University, including the reconstruction of spaces allocated for The Peter J. Tobin College of Business and the College of Professional Studies on the Queens campus.

Enhancements to the Tobin College of Business include the Lesley and William Collins Business Analytics Lab, the Paul and Carol Evanson Career Center, and the Valerie and Gerard Sodano Dean’s Suite.

The College of Professional Studies, located in St. Augustine Hall, now features the Homeland Security Simulation Lab—the first of its kind in the northeast. It also includes an innovation lab—a hands-on design and test space where students learn to develop new products, and the IDEA Lab, a creative space for students to produce digital and print media products.

The new Long Island Graduate Center opened in Hauppauge, NY, in late August, offering programs from The School of Education. Future plans include expanding graduate options from other St. John’s colleges. “This new graduate center will allow St. John’s to enhance its presence in Suffolk County,” Dr. Gempesaw said, “and will be the impetus for more academic and community partnerships in the state.”

St. John’s academic mission continues to benefit from the support of generous alumni and friends, the President noted. In fiscal year 2017, donations totaled more than $22 million, an increase of $1.4 million over the previous year. St. John’s also welcomed six members to The Founder’s Society—donors who have pledged more than $1 million to the University.

In closing, Dr. Gempesaw thanked the University community for its continued support. “I am sincerely grateful to all of you for your efforts to improve and strengthen our University,” he said. “Let us continue working together so we can build a much stronger foundation for future St. John’s students, employees, alumni, and friends in our community.”