Saint Peter's University

Saint Peter's University
Latin: Universitas Sancti Petri
Former name
Saint Peter’s College
Motto Ad majorem Dei gloriam (Latin)
Motto in English
For the Greater Glory of God
Type Private Nonprofit
Research Coeducational
Established 1872 (1872)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Academic affiliation
Endowment $31.05 million[1]
President Eugene J. Cornacchia
Provost Gerard P. O’Sullivan
Academic staff
Students 3,406[2]
Undergraduates 2,525[2]
Postgraduates 881 (graduate/doctoral)[2]
Location Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
40°43′38″N 74°04′18″W / 40.72722°N 74.07167°W / 40.72722; -74.07167Coordinates: 40°43′38″N 74°04′18″W / 40.72722°N 74.07167°W / 40.72722; -74.07167
Campus Urban - 30 acres (12.1 ha)
Colors Blue and White[3]
Nickname Peacocks
Mascot Peacock
Sporting affiliations

Saint Peter's University is a private, coeducational Jesuit Roman Catholic college in the United States. Located in Jersey City, New Jersey, the school was founded as Saint Peter's College in 1872 by the Society of Jesus. Today, Saint Peter's is one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Saint Peter's University offers over 60 undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 2,500 undergraduate and 800 graduate students. Its college mascot is the Peacock and its sports teams play in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, of which it is a founding member.

The school is located on a 30-acre (12 ha) campus just south of Journal Square, and is 2 miles (3 km) west of New York City. Evening and weekend classes are offered in Jersey City, Englewood Cliffs, and South Amboy.

In 2015-16, Saint Peter's was ranked fifth nationwide by Money magazine in the category of "Colleges That Add the Most Value." According to the magazine, the top value-added colleges are those "that best help students exceed expectations."; The University was also ranked in the top 18% of all American colleges for educational quality, affordability and alumni outcomes.[4] The U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2016 guide ranked the institution among the top 100 universities in the Regional Universities North region.[5]


The college was chartered in 1872 and enrolled its first students in 1878 at Warren Street, in Jersey City, on the present site of its former high school section, St. Peter's Preparatory School. In September 1918, the college was closed, along with several other Jesuit colleges and high schools, because of declining enrollment in the face of World War I. Although the war ended only two months after its closing, and despite clamoring from alumni, it took until 1930 to re-open the college. The college was temporarily located on Newark Avenue, before moving in 1936 to its current location on Hudson (now Kennedy) Boulevard, between Montgomery Street and Glenwood Avenue.

Unlike other institutions in New Jersey, the school was racially segregated for many years. It was first integrated in 1936, when the college admitted its first black student. The college granted an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965.[6][7]

The school become co-educational starting in 1966, though women had been admitted to the school's evening program in 1930 and a group of 35 women had been admitted during World War II in an effort to address financial difficulties.[8]

The Englewood Cliffs campus, as seen from Manhattan
Gannon Hall

The college has made an effort to reach out into the New Jersey suburbs, with a satellite campus in St. Michael's Villa at Englewood Cliffs opened in 1975 and an extension at South Amboy's Cardinal McCarrick High School opened in 2003.

Recent years have seen much construction for the college. In 1975, the college constructed the Yanitelli Recreational Life Center, a sports complex. Beginning with the 1983 acquisition of its first residence hall, the college has converted four apartment buildings to dormitory use, and constructed two brand new dormitories.

Recent developments

Gannon Hall, the science building and one of the first structures on campus, underwent an $8.2 million renovation.

In 2004, the long-awaited pedestrian bridge over Kennedy Boulevard linked the East Campus and the West Campus. In 2006, the college began a $50 million capital campaign. Further expansion of the east side of the campus included plans for a student center, which has been in service since construction was completed in 2013. The new McMahon Student Center houses offices for many of Saint Peter's administrative branches, as well as numerous student led organizations, such as the Student Government Association.[9]

On December 24, 2006, sitting college President James N. Loughran, S.J. was found dead in his home.[10] On May 10, 2007, the Board of Trustees appointed Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., as the 22nd President of Saint Peter's College. Dr. Cornacchia is the first layperson to serve as President of the 135-year-old Catholic, Jesuit institution.

In 2008, Saint Peter's was awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to create the Center for Microplasma Science and Technology. This grant allowed the college to expand upon its 20 years of studying microplasma as part of its research on water purifiers in conjunction with United Water. Saint Peter's graduates U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and U.S. Representative Albio Sires helped secure the $2 million grant.[11]

On the day after his narrow defeat in the 2008 New Hampshire Presidential primary election, Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama held a rally at the college's Yanitelli Center.[12]

In March 2011, it was announced that the college would take over Saint Aeden's Church at McGinley Square from the Archdiocese of Newark.[13]

Footbridge over Kennedy Boulevard links the campus as it grows eastward
Yanitelli Center, Home of the Peacocks

In March 2012, it was announced the college had been granted the university designation by the New Jersey State Secretary for Higher Education and would thus change its name. On August 14, 2012, Saint Peter's announced its official change on its website, becoming Saint Peter's University.[14][15]

In 2013, Saint Peter's University opened its new student center.[16]

In 2014 the University opened a center for undocumented students, providing them a safe space and mentoring, a resource library, legal support, and advice for them and their families about deportation defense and immigration issues.[17]

Student clubs and activities

Saint Peter's University has numerous clubs and organizations that participate in a broad range of activities. Saint Peter's University has over 50 active student-run organizations, in addition to the new Mac Mahon Student Center.


Competing in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), the college fields 19 athletic teams. All of the sports teams are now known as the Peacocks. Until recently, the women's teams were known as the Peahens; Saint Peter's is the only NCAA Division I institution with this mascot. The baseball, softball and soccer teams play at Joseph J. Jaroschak Field, in Lincoln Park. All other teams play at the The Victor R. Yanitelli, S.J. Recreational Life Center, located on campus. The school also uses the Jersey City Armory for some events. On June 14, 2007, it was announced that the football team would be disbanded.[18]

Basketball has long been the most popular sport at the college. Under legendary coach Don Kennedy, the men's team gained national attention by defeating heavily favored and nationally ranked Duke University in the 1968 NIT quarterfinals, en route to a fourth-place finish.

Saint Peter's has won the MAAC men's basketball championship and the accompanying automatic bid to the NCAA tournament three times (1991, 1995, and 2011) and has appeared in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) 12 times (1957, 1958, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1987, and 1989). The women's basketball team has won seven MAAC championships and automatic bids to the NCAA tournament (1982, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002); it also won the MAAC championship in 1983 and 1984, years when the MAAC champion did not receive an automatic NCAA tournament berth.

In recent years the basketball program has seen a resurgence, owing much to the success of Keydren "Kee-Kee" Clark '05. In 2004 and 2005, Clark led the nation in points scored per game, becoming just the eighth player to repeat as NCAA Division I scoring champion. On March 4, 2006, Clark became only the seventh NCAA player to score more than 3,000 points in his career; on the next day, he passed Hersey Hawkins to become the sixth-leading scorer of all time. At the time of his final game on March 6, 2006, Clark held the NCAA all-time record for 3-point shots, with 435. A second fourth-year student and a forward on the basketball team, George Jefferson, died on June 21, 2005, due to a previously undiagnosed heart condition. In 2011, Saint Peter's won the MAAC tournament to make the Peacocks' first March Madness appearance since 1995.

John Dunne was named the 14th head coach in Saint Peter’s College men’s basketball history on May 24, 2006. On November 25, 2007, the Peacocks defeated Rutgers University 65–58 at the Jersey City Armory. This victory was Saint Peter's first win against a Big East Conference opponent since defeating Seton Hall University at the Meadowlands in 1995.[19]

Peacocks logo

The men's soccer team has also enjoyed some success of late. The Peacocks were crowned the 2003 MAAC Men's Soccer Champions after defeating Loyola College (Maryland), 2–1. In 2006 the Peacocks returned to the MAAC Men's Soccer Championship finals where they were outlasted by Fairfield University, 1–0. The Peacocks again returned to the MAAC Men's Soccer Championship Finals in 2007, where they fell to Loyola College, 1–0. In 2007, the men's team earned a place in the 2007 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament with the first at-large nomination in school history. The Peacocks met the University of Virginia in the First Round of play at Charlottesville, Virginia. Saint Peter's lost by a score of 3–1. In 2010, Saint Peter's College Men's Soccer team earned their second MAAC Championship title defeating Iona College 2–1.

The women's bowling team is one of the most successful programs at the school, winning its first-ever championship title in 2009.[20]

The golf team won back-to-back MAAC team championships in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, golfer Nicholas Dilio won the MAAC Individual title. They enjoy access to the prestigious Liberty National Golf Club on the beautiful Jersey City waterfront — home to The Barclays 2009, first stage of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup. Liberty National is noted as a unique course because of its proximity to and panoramic views of both the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan.

Peacock mascot

Peacock mascot

Saint Peter's University is the only NCAA Division I institution whose mascot is the peacock. This choice was made for several reasons. Primarily, the land on which Saint Peter's now stands was once owned by a man named Michael Pauw, whose last name means "peacock" in Dutch. His extensive holdings included most of Hudson County and were part of the Pavonia, New Netherland settlement.

In pagan mythology, the peacock is considered to be a symbol of rebirth, much like the phoenix. For Saint Peter's, it is a reference to the closing and reopening of the college in the early 20th century.

At one point in the 1960s, live peacocks roamed the campus. Many institutions within the college derive their name from the peacock:

Succession of presidents

  • 1. Victor Beaudevin, S. J. April 3, 1872
  • 2. John McQuaid, S. J. July 31, 1874
  • 3. Peter Cassidy, S. J. July 1, 1888
  • 4. John Harpes, S. J. October 22, 1891
  • 5. Joseph Zwinge, S. J. August 26, 1900
  • 6. John W. Fox, S. J. July 14, 1902
  • 7. Edward J. McGrath, S. J. January 21, 1907
  • 8. Joseph A. Mulry, S. J. October 10, 1911

  • 9. James F. McDermott, S. J. April 15, 1915
  • 10. Thomas F. Graham, S. J. July 7, 1921
  • 11. Joseph P. O'Reilly, S. J. September 30, 1925
  • 12. Joseph S. Dinneen, S. J. August 15, 1931
  • 13. Denis J. Comey, S. J. June 21, 1937
  • 14. Vincent J. Hart, S. J. August 15, 1943
  • 15. James J. Shanahan, S. J. December 3, 1949

  • 16. Edward F. Clark, S. J. June 16, 1960
  • 17. Leo P. McLaughlin, S. J. June 13, 1965
  • 18. Victor R. Yanitelli, S. J. September 8, 1965
  • 19. L. Edward Glynn, S. J. July 1, 1978
  • 20. Daniel A. Degnan, S. J. July 1, 1990
  • 21. James N. Loughran, S. J. July 1, 1995
  • 22. Eugene J. Cornacchia October 20, 2007

Notable alumni

Saint Peter's has approximately 28,000 living alumni worldwide. Saint Peter's alumni are distinguishing themselves in the fields of arts & entertainment, business, government, law, medicine and sports.


  1. "Sortable Table: College and University Endowments, 2013-14". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Menu (2013-01-24). "Saint Peters University - Facts and Stats". Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  3. Saint Peter's University Brand Standards (PDF). 2012-08-16. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  4. Staff. "The 50 Colleges That Add the Most Value; The schools that best help students exceed expectations.", Money (magazine). Accessed June 3, 2016.
  5. Staff. "St. Peter's University", U.S. News & World Report. Accessed June 3, 2016. "St. Peter's University's ranking in the 2016 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities (North), 92."
  6. Honorary Degree Recipients, Saint Peter's University. Accessed June 3, 2016.
  7. "Saint Peter’s College remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit in 1965 with series of lectures, films and other events on September 22.", Saint peter's University, September 20, 2005. Accessed June 3, 2016. "Saint Peter’s College will hold a series of events including lectures, music and poetry on September 22 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the College awarding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws and Letters."
  8. Mission & History, Saint Peter's University. Accessed June 3, 2016. "Saint Peter’s reopened in 1930 on the fourth floor of the Chamber of Commerce Building in downtown Jersey City, and women were admitted to the Evening Session for the first time.... Saint Peter’s officially became fully coeducational in 1966 when women were admitted to the Day Session, although 35 women had actually been enrolled in 1944 in order to keep the College occupied during difficult financial times."
  9. "St. Peter's College launches $62 million capital campaign with help from 'American Idol' Taylor Hicks, looks to build its first student center". The Jersey Journal. May 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  10. "Rev. James N. Loughran, 66, College Head, Dies", The New York Times, December 28, 2006. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  11. Shortell, Tom. "Microplasma means big money for St. Peter's College", December 4, 2008, Retrieved June 21, 2010.
  12. Cardwell, Diane. "Obama Swipes at Clinton, but Takes Aim at Bush", The New York Times, January 9, 2008. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
  13. "Longtime St. Aedan's parishioners slam deal Archdiocese quietly made for Saint Peter's College to take over Jersey City church". 2011-03-31. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  14. Jersey Journal file photo. "St. Peter's College in Jersey City approved for university designation". Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  15. "Saint Peter's College is now Saint Peter's University". 13 August 2012. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013.
  16. "University Hosts Grand Opening Celebration for Mac Mahon Student Center". 2013-03-20. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  17. Undocumented. Accessed 4 October 2016.
  18. St. Peter's drops football program due to trouble competing. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  19. Cangiano, Andrew. "Peacocks Strut Their Stuff", The Jersey Journal, November 26, 2007. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  20. Bowling Peahens Win 2009 Beach Open
  21. Mary Ann McGuigan website
  22. "Lawrence R. Codey". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  23. "Joseph R. Gromek". Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  24. Zina Moukheiber. "Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned". Forbes. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  25. "McGinn, Joseph T., Dr. - The Heart Institute". The Heart Institute. Retrieved 29 May 2015.

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