Jesuit Apostolates: Saint Peter's University

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Jesuit Apostolates - St. Peter’s University

The New York Province of the Society of Jesus sponsors four colleges and universities in New York and New Jersey: Fordham University, founded in 1841; Canisius College, founded in 1870; St. Peter’s University, founded in 1872; and LeMoyne College, founded in 1946. In our ongoing exploration of other Jesuit apostolates, we focus today on St. Peter’s University. In upcoming months we will highlight Fordham, Canisius and LeMoyne. 

Xavier has had a long connection with St. Peter’s as hundreds of her sons moved on to study on the left bank of the Hudson after graduation from Xavier. Numerous Jesuits and their lay colleagues have served on the faculty and staff at both institutions. Fr. Vincent J. Hart, S.J., Rector-President of Xavier from 1937 to 1943 served as the president of St. Peter’s College from 1943 to 1949 when he moved on to Fordham. Fr. Ed Heavey, S.J., prefect of discipline at Xavier through much of the 1960’s served for many years at St. Peter’s as dean of students and alumni chaplain. Many have noted that the Fr. Heavey at St. Peter’s was the kinder and gentler Fr. Heavey! Fr. Joseph Novak, S.J., Cadet Colonel of the Class of 1945, served as rector of the Jesuit community at St. Peter’s on the 90s and early 2000’s. Fr. Dave Stump, S.J. ’59 taught computer science and continues to provide IT support at the university. Fr. Peter Gyves, S.J. ’69 serves as vicar of the University Church, St. Aedan’s. Fr. Jose Lito Salazar, S.J., and Fr. Tony Aracich, S.J. who both served as scholastics at Xavier, are respectively, professor of theology and adjunct professor of languages, and Fr. Joe Papaj, S.J., Xavier’s headmaster from 1980 to 1984, is a member of the Jesuit Community at the university as is Fr. Bob O’Hare, S.J., former mathematics teacher at Xavier and current faculty member at St. Peter’s Prep. The connections between our institutions are many and deep.

Since its founding in 1972, St. Peter’s has educated generations of men, and since the late 1960’s, women, who were first generation college students. It continues to serve many today who are the first in their families to attend and graduate from college. Be they first generation college students or those from families with a long tradition of higher education, St. Peter’s opens new doors and new opportunities for all her students. The university has scores of distinguished alumni in its ranks including the Pulitzer Prize winning philosopher Will Durant, the senior Senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, and Congressman Albio Sires from New Jersey’s 13th Congressional District.

Saint Peter’s University is one of twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. The school sits on 30 acres in Jersey City, the second largest city in New Jersey and is easily accessible by PATH train from New York City. The university also has a campus for adult students in Englewood Cliffs overlooking the Hudson River from atop the Palisades. The 3,200 student body is diverse by every measure. While nearly 80% of the student body hails from the New York metropolitan area, the opening of residence halls in 1983 and the expansion of on-campus housing since has attracted students from across the country to St. Peter’s to take advantage of a Jesuit education with all the wonders of New York at their doorstep. Students are now studying at St. Peter’s from over 25 states and more than 35 countries around the world. Fr. Jim Loughran, S.J., the 21st president of St. Peter’s, enjoyed boasting that over 80 languages were spoken by students at the college. The university has a distinguished history promoting civil rights. In the 1960s, Fr. Victor Yanatelli, S.J., the college’s 19th president, forged a close relationship with the Rev. Dr. Ercel Webb, the longtime pastor of Monumental Baptist Church in Jersey City. Together they worked to significantly increase the enrollment of black students at St. Peter’s. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited St. Peter’s in 1965, addressed the student body and was awarded an honorary degree. The Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership continues to foster relationships with the larger community and explore issues of civil rights, domestic policy and local and national politics. Nicholas Chiaravalloti serves as the director of the Guarini Center.  Since 2004, St. Peter’s has maintained NGO status at the United Nations.

Saint Peter’s University offers over 60 undergraduate, adult undergraduate and graduate programs. Graduate degrees are offered in education, business, accountancy, criminal justice and nursing with doctoral programs in education and nursing. This fall, graduate programs in public administration and strategic communications will be launched. Saint Peter’s University offers pre-professional programs in conjunction with New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Rutgers University, Seton Hall University, and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (formerly UMDNJ). While tuition is $31,000 per year, financial aid is granted to 98 percent of full-time undergraduate students in the form of academic, need-based and athletic grants. The average financial aid package is more than $20,000.
Saint Peter’s fields 19 NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletic teams. It is a founding member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) and the only NCAA Division 1 School with the Peacock as its mascot. Over the years the college has enjoyed great success in both men’s and women’s basketball. The golf team plays at the beautiful Liberty National Golf course on the Hudson River overlooking the Statue of Liberty and the New York Skyline. Liberty National hosted the Barclay’s Tournament in 2009.

St. Peter’s in clearly a university on the move under the leadership of Dr. Eugene Cornacchia, her 22nd president. In 2012, by action of the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, St. Peter’s College became St. Peter’s University recognizing the expansion of her undergraduate and graduate programs. In the spring of 2013, McMahon Student Center opened giving the university its first comprehensive student center to serve as a hub for university life and a home for student activities, campus ministry, and a host of programs and activities. The development of new programs, collaborations with other institutions of higher education and a commitment to sustainability and green energy all put St. Peter’s in a leadership position in higher education in the Tri-State area and ensure that it will continue to send forth men and women who will shape society for the good.

More information on St. Peter’s University is available at http://www.saintpeters.edu/.

Xavier High School
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