JAMAICA ESTATES — An immigrant from the Philippines has been selected as the new head of St. John's University, the school's first lay president in its 144 year history.
The chairman of the school's Board of Trustees said that Dr. Conrado Gempesaw was chosen as the university's 17th president.
It's been a tumultuous year for the Queens school, which saw the resignation of its former president amid a corruption investigation.
The new chief comes to St. John's from Miami University in Ohio, where he was the provost and executive vice president of academic affairs.
Before joining that university, he also held several positions at the University of Delaware.
"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," said Rev. Michael J. Carroll, C.M., who was in charge of the search.
He will take over for the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, who was elected as interim president after the school’s previous scandal-tinged boss, Rev. Donald Harrington, stepped down last summer.
Harrington announced his retirement last May amidst an internal investigation into gifts he and another staffer received from a former dean accused of allegedly embezzling over $1 million from the university.
The dean, Cecilia Chang, committed suicide while she was on trial in federal court.