Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., the president of St. John’s University since 2014, will retire at the end of his term in June 2021, concluding a 36-year career in academia.
Dr. Gempesaw, the first lay president in St. John’s 150-year history, has led one of the nation’s largest Catholic universities during a time of unprecedented change and challenge in higher education. Dr. Gempesaw, an immigrant from the Philippines, led the Vincentian institution in its enduring mission to serve immigrants, their children and the broader community.
“It has been the privilege of my life to serve as president of St. John’s University, and this decision was a difficult one, reached after much reflection and prayer,” said Dr. Gempesaw, who announced his retirement June 10.
He enlisted representatives from across the university community in developing four strategic priorities focused on ensuring student success by improving recruitment, retention, graduation and career placement rates; hiring outstanding faculty, administrators and staff; enhancing the teaching and learning environment; and expanding domestic and global partnerships.
After five years of growth in the incoming first-year class, a record total enrollment was achieved in 2019. The six-year graduation rates for the May 2019 and May 2020 graduating classes were the highest in 15 years, and the four-year graduation rates for the May 2019 and May 2020 graduating classes were the highest in 30 years.
St. John’s provided nearly $275 million in financial aid to students during the 2019-20 academic year, which ranks among the highest amount of institutional aid provided by any private college or university in the country.
During his tenure, more than 90 percent of all general-purpose classrooms along with laboratories have been upgraded with technology tools designed to improve learning outcomes and ensure student success.