Saint Peter's University

Saint Peter's University is a private Jesuit university in Jersey City, New Jersey. It was founded as Saint Peter's College in 1872 by the Society of Jesus. It offers over 60 undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 2,600 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.

Saint Peter's University
Latin: Universitas Sancti Petri
Former name
Saint Peter's College
MottoAd majorem Dei gloriam (Latin)
Motto in English
For the Greater Glory of God
TypePrivate Nonprofit
Research Coeducational
Established1872 (1872)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Academic affiliation
Endowment$31.05 million[1]
PresidentEugene J. Cornacchia
ProvostFred Bonato
Academic staff
Postgraduates881 (graduate/doctoral)[2]
Location, ,
United States

40°43′38″N 74°04′18″W
CampusUrban - 30 acres (12.1 ha)
ColorsBlue and White[3]
Sporting affiliations

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.


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.[4][5]

The school became co-educational in 1966, though women had been admitted to the school's evening program in 1930 and a group of 35 women had been admitted due to low enrollment during World War II.[6]

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.

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 new dormitories.

2000 to present

In 2000, Gannon Hall, the science building, completed an $8.2 million renovation.[7]

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 the new Mac Mahon Student Center, completed in 2013. It houses offices for many of Saint Peter's administrative branches, as well as numerous student led organizations such as the Student Government Association.[8]

On December 24, 2006, sitting college President James N. Loughran, S.J., was found dead in his home.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

In March 2011, it was announced that the college would take over Saint Aeden's Church at McGinley Square from the Archdiocese of Newark.[12]

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 the official change on its website, becoming Saint Peter's University.[13][14]

In 2013, the new Mac Mahon Student Center was completed.[15]

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.[16]


Competing in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), the college fields 16 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 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.[17]

Basketball has long been the most popular sport at the college. Under 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 2017, Saint Peter's won the Postseason Tournament (CIT) championship by defeating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the tournament final. It was Saint Peter's first national title in school history.

In 2004 and 2005, Keydren "Kee-Kee" Clark '05 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.

The Peacocks were the MAAC Men's Soccer Champions in 2003 and 2010. The team were finalists in 2006 and 2007

The women's bowling team won its first championship title in 2009.[18]

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:

  • The school newspaper is titled the Pauw Wow.
  • The literary magazine is titled the Pavan.
  • The school's yearbook is titled the Peacock Pie.
  • The drama society calls itself Argus Eyes, in reference to Argus "Panoptes", who, according to Greek mythology, had his 100 eyes preserved by Hera in the tail of the peacock.
  • One of the major dining facilities is named the Pavonia Room.
  • The O'Toole Library café is named Pavo Perk.

Notable alumni

Notable alumni include:


  1. "Sortable Table: College and University Endowments, 2013-14". The Chronicle of Higher Education. January 29, 2015. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  2. Menu (January 24, 2013). "Saint Peters University - Facts and Stats". Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  3. Saint Peter's University Brand Standards (PDF). August 16, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  4. Honorary Degree Recipients, Saint Peter's University. Accessed June 3, 2016.
  5. "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."
  6. 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."
  7. History: Timeline, Saint Peter's University (last accessed January 27, 2018).
  8. "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 May 7, 2011.
  9. "Rev. James N. Loughran, 66, College Head, Dies", The New York Times, December 28, 2006. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  10. Shortell, Tom. "Microplasma means big money for St. Peter's College", December 4, 2008, Retrieved June 21, 2010.
  11. Cardwell, Diane. "Obama Swipes at Clinton, but Takes Aim at Bush", The New York Times, January 9, 2008. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
  12. "Longtime St. Aedan's parishioners slam deal Archdiocese quietly made for Saint Peter's College to take over Jersey City church". March 31, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  13. Jersey Journal file photo. "St. Peter's College in Jersey City approved for university designation". Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  14. "Saint Peter's College is now Saint Peter's University". August 13, 2012. Archived from the original on August 24, 2012.
  15. "University Hosts Grand Opening Celebration for Mac Mahon Student Center". March 20, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  16. Undocumented. Accessed 4 October 2016.
  17. St. Peter's drops football program due to trouble competing. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  18. Bowling Peahens Win 2009 Beach Open Archived January 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  19. Mary Ann McGuigan website
  20. "Lawrence R. Codey". Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  21. "Joseph R. Gromek". Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  22. Zina Moukheiber. "Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned". Forbes. Archived from the original on May 14, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
  23. "McGinn, Joseph T., Dr. - The Heart Institute". The Heart Institute. Archived from the original on October 13, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
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