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After a major scandal that rocked the school and a year-long search for a new leader, the St. John’s University Board of Trustees announced Dr. Conrado Gempesaw as its 17th president on Thursday.
Gempesaw, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University in Ohio, has over three decades of academic experience and will start July 1, replacing Interim President Rev. Joseph Levesque.
“In Dr. Gempesaw, we have found a visionary leader who understands and embraces St. John’s mission as a Catholic and vincentian university, and has the skills necessary to realize our goals for the future,” the Board said in a letter. “We are confident he will help St. John’s continue its remarkable transformation from a commuter school into a global educational institution with enhanced and expanded facilities and new academic initiatives, while maintaining its mission of providing a world-class affordable education.”
Former president of 24 years, Father Donald Harrington, announced he would step down last year as the head of St. John’s in May, following immense media pressure over gifts he received from former dean Cecilia Chang, who was facing charges of embezzling $1 million from the school. Chang ultimately committed suicide before the end of her trial, increasing the attention on Harrington and his chief of staff, Robert Wile, who also resigned.