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Penn State Graduate School alumnus recognized for lifetime achievements

Graduate School Alumni Society Lifetime Achievement Award

Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw is the 2017 recipient of the Penn State Graduate School Alumni Society Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented to alumni who have achieved exceptional success throughout the course of their career and have demonstrated loyalty to the University and the Alumni Association. Gempesaw was recognized for his accomplishments during the annual Graduate School Alumni Society Recognition Dinner on March 25. 

Widely respected as an accomplished scholar, teacher and administrator, with over three decades of academic and administrative experience and leadership, Gempesaw has been described as “one of today’s most outstanding leaders within higher education.”

Gempesaw has served as president of St. John’s University since July 2014. St. John’s is one of the nation’s largest and most diverse Catholic universities with 20,000 students at seven locations: Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, and Oakdale in New York; Rome, Italy; Paris, France; and Seville, Spain. Gempesaw is the first lay president in the 146-year history of the private, Catholic, and Vincentian University.

Prior to his appointment at St. John’s University, Gempesaw served as provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  Previously, at the University of Delaware, he served as dean of the Lerner College of Business and Economics; interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; vice provost for Academic and International Programs; vice provost for Academic Programs and Planning; and chair of the Department of Food and Resource Economics. 

After receiving his doctoral degree in agricultural economics at Penn State in 1985, Gempesaw joined the University of Delaware as an assistant professor. He was awarded tenure and promoted to associate professor in 1989, and promoted to full professor in 1993.

Gempesaw’s field of research and expertise is in higher education administration, financial simulation analysis, marketing, and international trade. He has published over 100 journal articles and conference proceedings and supervised 32 master’s theses and dissertations.

According to one of his nominators, “He is a leader who brings change, involves the members of the organization in that change such that they become co-leaders with him in making their institutions better in every way…It takes a very special leader to open his arms to the members of the institution and invite them to co-create with him the future of the institution, and then to educate, train, coach and mentor the entire community to step up to their collective leadership roles and responsibilities to move the institution forward. This is what Gempesaw has done for St. John’s.”

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