Former Provincial Honored at Dinner Raising 3.3 Million for Scholarships

Held in the Grand Ballroom of the New York Hilton Midtown on Friday, October 27, the Dinner drew nearly 850 preregistered guests including benefactors, faculty, administrators, staff, students, alumni, and members of the St. John’s Board of Trustees and Board of Governors.

Since its inception in 1998, St. John’s premier fundraising event has now raised nearly $37 million in total revenue while celebrating the University’s Catholic and Vincentian values.


Fr. Michael, former Provincial, received the Spirit of Service award.
“Your presence here tonight demonstrates your commitment to help the next generation of St. John’s students,” said Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s. He thanked the donors for their generosity and added, “During the past three years, we have shown that, by working together under a shared vision of ensuring student success, we can achieve transformative results, including a record increase in our first-year student retention rates, the hiring of over 100 new faculty members, and significant renovations and technology upgrades in our academic facilities, classrooms, and laboratories.”

The President’s Dinner also serves as an opportunity for St. John’s to honor alumni and friends with the Spirit of Service Award. As in the past, this year’s honorees exemplify the University’s Vincentian values in their life and work.


A Passion for Service

Spirit of Service honorees described the impact the University’s values have had on their lives.

Fr. Carroll, who recently finished his term as Provincial for the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission and Vice Chair of the St. John’s Board of Trustees, had served as Executive Vice President for Mission and Branch Campuses at the University. “This annual dinner is a celebration of sacrifice, of spirit, and of service,” he said. “It is a fitting metaphor for St. John’s University and a good reminder of all of the work that still needs to be done.”

“The Vincentian tradition is one of great charity, great love,” said Mr. Kurre. “It’s certainly something I’ve carried throughout my life.” Mrs. Kurre also shared that she and her husband are the proud parents of a St. John’s alumnus. “That’s very special to us,” she said, “because our son was able to have the values of the Vincentian Mission instilled in him.”

Ms. Keane, who accepted the award on behalf of Synchrony Financial, noted that she held three jobs while attending St. John’s. “I valued my education very highly,” she said, “so, I’m always sensitive to families that struggle and people who go that extra mile.” Ms. Keane helped create the Families That Work program at Synchrony Financial. “It’s about helping that family that’s on the edge—the one whose parents have multiple jobs, trying to figure out day care, housing, and paying their rent. We teach them financial literacy.”


The honorees this year were:
  • Rev. Michael J. Carroll, C.M. ’09HON
    Former Provincial Superior,
    Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission;
    Former Vice Chair, St. John’s University Board of Trustees
  • John H. Hajjar, M.D., F.A.C.S. ’77C
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
    The Sovereign Health System,
    Sharon F. Hajjar ’79SVC, ’86P
  • Frank L. Kurre ’84CBA
    Managing Partner–Northeast Region,
    Grant Thornton LLP;
    Member of St. John’s University Board of Governors
    Francesca M. Kurre
  • Synchrony Financial
    Accepting on behalf of Synchrony Financial was
    Margaret M. Keane ’81C, ’87MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer;
    Secretary and Member of St. John’s University Board of Trustees


In addition to celebrating the 20th anniversary, this year’s President’s Dinner also celebrated several other milestones, including the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism, marking St. Vincent de Paul’s call to his followers to dedicate themselves to those in need; the 50th anniversary of the President’s Society, the highest honor society for undergraduates at St. John’s; and the 30th anniversary of Student Government, Inc., which represents over 180 student organizations at the University.

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