Remarks by the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., at
the inauguration of Rev. Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw as president of St. John’s
October 24, 2014
Good afternoon. I’m enormously pleased to welcome Dr.
Gempesaw to the ranks of university presidents, and to do so here at St. John’s
University, my former academic home, and an institution I very much love and respect.
For 145 years, St. John’s
has pursued the audacious goal of assisting students without easy opportunities
to further their prospects in life by offering something far more valuable than
job training. You’ve taught them the
- Not just
accounting, but the workings of the economy.
- Not simply teacher
training, but the psychological development of children.
- The precise
formulation of pharmaceuticals, yes, but also the very boundaries of scientific
- Legal procedure
to be sure, but also history and ethics; concepts of rule-of-law and
- Theology and
philosophy remain in your core, and taught for what they are: wisdom for a life
ahead filled with defining questions of who the students will become and the commitments
they will undertake.
- Opportunities for
research, internship, service and even publication, all to the bring students
actively into the worlds they read about in their books.
- And beyond this, the
faculty’s own scholarly work and service, all meant as a gift to improve the
world as we know it.
The arts, the humanities,
the social sciences, the sciences, the breadth of professional endeavors. A Catholic liberal arts education of the most
classic form. A gift, to those whose
parents could never have imagined such an education for themselves, and could
barely dream of offering it to their children.
All of this, the work of a Vincentian education and a sacred trust.
Dr. Gempesaw, this
audacious goal, this mission, is now placed into your hands to foster and
encourage. Faculty, staff and students
alike will look to you for inspiration; for efficient management; for the
pressure to adopt new ideas; and yes, even as a one-man-sales-force, encouraging
others to join the mission of St. John’s through philanthropy and partnerships.
Great institutions do not
become so by presidents alone. But no
institution becomes great without great leadership. Bobby, thank you for accepting this job, so
important to so many. Please count on
the support of the women and men who comprise your sister school, DePaul
University. We are proud to work
alongside you and for this wonderful institution.
May God bless you and - through
all of us, together - may God bless St. John’s University.