St. John’s University names long-time educator as new president

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Rev. Brian J. Shanley, former president of Providence College, has been selected as the new president of St. John’s University.

Shanley is expected to begin his tenure at St. John’s on Feb. 1, 2021.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I am absolutely delighted to welcome Fr. Shanley to St. John’s,” said St. John’s alumnus and chair of the Board of Trustees William J. Janetschek, in a news release. “Fr. Shanley’s steadfast devotion to Catholic education and to student success were apparent from our very first conversations with him. He has a demonstrated record of achievement as President of Providence College, and we believe that he is the ideal candidate to serve as our beloved University’s 18th President. We look forward to, and will be grateful for, Fr. Shanley’s visionary leadership in the years ahead.”

Shanley succeeds Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, the first lay president in St. John’s University history, who is slated to retire in June 2021. Gempesaw joined St. John’s University as president in 2014.

“I am honored and delighted to be elected by the Board of Trustees to serve the St. John’s community as President of the University,” said Shanley. “I have long admired St. John’s commitment to the founding mission set forth by the Vincentian community to provide a Catholic education for first-generation students in a diverse and inclusive environment. I look forward to leading our community to remain committed to that mission amidst the unique challenges of the current times.”

From 2005 to June 2020, Rev. Shanley was the 12th and longest-serving president in the history of Providence College.

During his tenure, he was widely credited with making substantial improvements to campus facilities and student services, hiring large numbers of new faculty, diversifying the student body, and strengthening the college’s national profile in academics and athletics.

A 1980 Providence College alumnus, he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in history and was ordained to the priesthood in 1987. He was sent to the University of Toronto four years later to complete a Ph.D. in philosophy. Shanley then joined the faculty at The Catholic University of America where he was awarded tenure. He then spent time at the University of Notre Dame and at Emory University.

In 1999, he joined the Providence College Board of Trustees and was elected president in 2005 — serving three consecutive five-year terms, concluding his service as president in June.

“I am thrilled for Fr. Shanley. He was such an impactful president during his 15-year tenure at Providence College, and he will long be remembered as one of the best presidents in the history of our college,” said Providence College President Fr. Kenneth R. Sicard. “He was an amazing colleague, friend and mentor to me. I know that he still had more to offer, and I have no doubt that he will do a wonderful job at St. John’s University. On behalf of the entire Providence College community, I wish him the very best and

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Former Katy ISD rodeo pavilion may be renamed after career educator

The former L.D. Robinson Pavilion that will house Katy Independent School District’s Project Teach Your Kids Early program may soon be renamed “Martha Aki ECI Project TYKE.”

At its meeting on Monday, Oct 26, the Katy ISD Board of Trustees received the recommendation from a Naming Advisory Committee.

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Aki currently serves as the director of the Early Childhood Intervention Project TYKE program but plans to retire in December after 28 years with the program. During an education career that spans four decades, Aki has worked in several roles, as a specialist, a teacher to students with auditory impairments, an early childhood special education teacher and a kindergarten teacher.

During Aki’s time as director, the ECI Project TYKE program formed a successful group coaching model where the parent, child and provider all participate. Her department has brought together ECI programs from across Texas for training. According to a news release, parents and staff members that have gone through Project TYKE and those that are presently active attest to how she leads compassionately, respectfully and professionally. Under her leadership, the Katy ISD Project TYKE program has become known as one of Texas’ best ECI programs, the release stated.

“Our program and staff have always provided quality and excellent year-round services to the infants and toddlers of Katy ISD,” Aki said. “ … We are excited and proud that we will have a place to call our home.”

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She added that over the years, nearly 17,000 children have been referred to ECI Project TYKE and that the program has welcomed and served each one. She said thanks to the efforts of the Katy ISD school board, many of the students have graduated and been successful.

Aki holds a bachelor’s degree in special education and education of hearing-impaired students from Trinity University and a postgraduate degree from the University of Houston with an emphasis in elementary education. Her two sons are both Katy High School graduates.

The 25,000-square-foot pavilion located at 6301 S. Stadium Lane has in years past hosted rodeo and FFA competitions until they were moved to the Agriculture Sciences Center in February 2019. In March 2020, the board approved plans to repurpose the facility.

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Members of the Katy ISD community are invited to a public forum from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 4, that will discuss the proposed name. Because of the pandemic, it will be available through the Public Forum Livestream. Those that would like to make comments should sign up in advance through an email with their name, email and phone number sent to [email protected] by 2 p.m. on Nov. 4. Speakers will receive a call during the forum, by audio only.

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