“Through the eyes of a colleague”

St. John’s new president, Dr. Conrado Gempesaw, will start his term July 1.  So far, all of the details about our new president have been strictly academic related, but it is also important to know him as a person.

Jerome Conley, dean of University Libraries at Miami University of Ohio, spoke to The Torch about Gempesaw as both a colleague and a friend.

As provost, Gempesaw oversees Conley’s department and Conley reports to him as well.  Gempesaw appointed Conley as dean of University Libraries last year after his predecessor, a colleague they both knew, left the University.  Conley said, “I had admired his work from afar in a different capacity, and I grew to have a deep respect for him as a person and administrator from working with him.”

Conley said that Gempesaw is a highly capable and hard-working administrator who gives his colleagues room to grow in their respective organizations.  “I admired him as a mentor but also for giving me the freedom to grow as an administrator and grow within my own organization.” Conley said that Gempesaw has a great capacity to let people grow under his supervision and that he gives people the resources and help that they need to succeed and move up.

With regards to Gempesaw’s work at Miami, Conley said that because of Gempesaw’s work ethic and allowing people to work together, he was able to improve enrollment and other university initiatives in only a few years—projects that would normally take many more years to work on.

Conley said that Gempesaw supports and strives for diversity and inclusion in a university community.  “He doesn’t just preach, he practices his word as well.  He understands that in higher education, you want the best and the brightest, but you also want to maintain access for all.”

Conley feels that Gempesaw is a good pick for president.  “His background at Delaware and here at Miami has prepared him well and he’s an excellent fit for the city and the international nature and the diversity of the New York area.  That extensive background positions him well.”

Conley said that there are really no downsides to Gempesaw because he is such a hard worker.  “He works very hard, harder than anyone else.  If anything, people need to know to be prepared when they talk to him, and to do their homework before speaking with him.”

He has clear strengths.  He understands higher education and what needs to be done.  What you need at the helm is to insure that St. John’s stays around, and he will work with everyone in order to lay the cornerstone to make sure St. John’s does just that.”

Conley feels that Gempesaw will not only improve the University, but the surrounding area as well.  “He really is a nice person, and you guys will really enjoy him [as president] and the New York area will enjoy his presence.  He will use the University as an avenue for economic development and help enhance the community.”