Jesuit Identity

Jesuit Identity

Be attentive. Be reflective. Be loving.

These three steps capture the essence of a Jesuit education at Saint Peter’s University.

Founded as a Jesuit college in 1872 by two Jesuits who rowed from Manhattan across the Hudson River to Jersey City, Saint Peter’s is part of perhaps the greatest teaching organization the world has ever known.

For nearly five centuries the Catholic order of priests known as the Jesuits have built a global network of renowned colleges and universities. Saint Peter’s University is one of 28 Jesuit institutions in the United States that include Georgetown University and Boston College.

A Jesuit education is rooted in the liberal arts and cura personalis, or personal care for each student.

From the beginning the Jesuits have described their distinctive spirituality as a three-part process. It begins with paying attention to experience, moves to reflecting on its meaning and ends in deciding how to act. We do this so that our graduates become men and women for others.

Saint Peter’s University, inspired by its Jesuit, Catholic identity, commitment to individual attention and grounding in the liberal arts, educates a diverse community of learners in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs to excel intellectually, lead ethically, serve compassionately and promote justice in our ever-changing urban and global environment.

Jesuit, Catholic identity

Saint Peter’s University embraces the Catholic tradition of higher education, which is rooted in the fundamental belief that God is Creator of all that is, and sustains all creation in existence. This same God was incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth.

True to this ancient tradition, today’s Catholic universities believe that the life-long process of coming to know better the world created by God, is, finally, to approach the mystery of God ever more closely. Thus, Saint Peter’s University is broadly comprehensive, embracing all the human and natural sciences as well as philosophy, theology, literature, history and the arts.

These are the areas in which our faculty conduct research and which we present to our students in the belief that because these things deepen our humanity, they lead us to participate more fully in the divine who embraced our humanity to its fullest. Now well into its second hundred years, Saint Peter’s University remains firmly Catholic, animated by a vision of life and learning inspired by this ancient tradition.

The intellectual dimension of the Catholic commitment is articulated both in the classroom, and in an attitude of free and open research; the religious commitment is realized in liturgy and other faith-based experiences; and the ethical and moral dimensions are manifested both in opportunities for individual spiritual growth and in a commitment to work in the world for the common good.

Individual Attention

In the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius stressed the need to help the whole person to grow and develop, not just a disembodied intellect but also head, heart and hands. This same care for the individual at all levels is a hallmark of Jesuit education the world over.

Therefore, Saint Peter’s seeks to be a truly student-oriented college by providing a climate which encourages, through cura personalis, the individual growth of all members of the University community. It characterizes the care and attention with which we deal with each other, whether student, faculty, administration, or staff.

For the student, it means that we take the individual, with all his or her strengths and weaknesses, and challenge him or her to go just as far as possible, and to never be satisfied with second best. Personal care is expressed in the attention to each individual student’s background and needs, encouragement in the development of each student’s unique talents, and programming that fosters education of the whole person – intellectual, cultural, moral, spiritual, and physical.

Cura personalis is fostered through the close interaction of students, faculty, administrators and staff, and through the nurturing of a strong sense of community among all the members of the University family, including current students and graduates.

And at Saint Peter’s, cura personalis is not just about nurturing the student; it is also about empowering each of our students to form habits of critical reflection on the values that shape our society.

Based on that reflection, we challenge them to discern among seemingly good alternative actions based on the magis—what is more in tune with God’s will—and to act, thereby extending cura personalis to the world.

Liberal Arts

Because Saint Peter’s believes that the study of creation mysteriously illuminates the unseen Creator, it values liberal arts education, which places the study of nature, human nature, and the development of the person at the center of the educational process.

The purpose of education, broadly speaking, is to probe mysteries, to analyze ideas, to suggest solutions to problems, to express thoughts, to understand and to question the phenomenon of permanence amidst change.

At Saint Peter’s, Jesuit education is also the process of preparing personally and professionally for one’s life work: being men and women with and for others. Therefore, the University offers many and varied undergraduate courses, all of which are based on the principle that knowledge in a special field gains depth, broadness of interpretation, and an understanding of moral values only when they are placed within the context of the humanistic disciplines.

Diverse Community of Learners

The campus community is truly reflective of the geographic, ethnic, racial, religious, and socioeconomic diversity of the local area and greater metropolitan region. Saint Peter’s is a global campus; the student body hails from over 20 states and more than 30 different countries, and speaks more than 40 first languages.

The University is a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution and over 50% of the student body represents minority groups. While the majority of students are Catholic, the community welcomes and serves the many religious denominations reflective of the metropolitan area.

The University serves a range of learners: traditional-aged, adult undergraduate and graduate and professional students. Through the curriculum and student activities, Saint Peter’s gladly promotes the awareness of and solidarity with people of such rich diversity. It is an essential part of our mission.

Excel Intellectually

Saint Peter’s University is an academic institution: its primary function is scholarship; its primary quest is for excellence in teaching, learning, and research. As such it offers education in a style that derives from the four hundred and seventy year tradition of the Jesuit order, with its emphasis on intellectual discipline.

The pursuit of academic excellence is fostered through a strong core curriculum on the undergraduate level and though programs of study on both the undergraduate and graduate levels, which emphasize precision of thought, clarity of oral and written expression, and freedom of inquiry.

Thus, the University’s commitment to academic excellence is the foundation for preparing students for lifelong learning, as well as for leadership in shaping society’s response to social, technological and environmental change.

And while Saint Peter’s encourages an appreciation of learning for its own sake, it also strives to form students who sense a responsibility to the Ignatian ideal of the magis– to do the more, do the better, do the greater. And to sense the responsibility that a fine education places on them: not only to the highest levels of personal achievement, but also to be persuasive, ethical, active leaders in their service to society.

Lead Ethically

The Saint Peter’s community views higher education as offering our students a uniquely effective opportunity to change and improve both individual lives and social structures—to be “men and women with and for others.”

Saint Peter’s University seeks to graduate talented, ethical students who will be leaders in their communities and fields. We stress that ethical and moral values and personal responsibility are essential for the development of the whole person who will be a leader.

This vision is pursued through an emphasis on value-oriented education. We stress the integrated development and maturing of moral and spiritual values along with cultural and intellectual growth.

We challenge our students not only to acquire knowledge, and skills, but also the discernment needed for leadership in serving others.

Serve Compassionately

We are dedicated to delivering a student-centered, values-based, and socially responsible educational experience that forms “men and women with and for others” after the model of Jesus, whose life was spent reaching out in compassion to the marginalized and oppressed.

The University believes that professional excellence should involve not only the attainment of technical proficiency but a sense of personal dignity and of public responsibility in the professional, civic, or business world.

The University pursues these purposes, however, in today’s world, with all its range of urgent social problems, local, national, and world-wide.

Concern for these problems at all levels should stimulate each one on campus to personal reflection, intellectual inquiry, discernment, and compassionate action.

Promote Justice

Jesuit education enables students, faculty, staff, and administrators to develop a disciplined sensitivity toward the suffering of our world and a will to act for the transformation of unjust social structures which cause the suffering. To do so, the University promotes community–based research and the off-campus study of social problems and of the institutions and agencies devised to cope with them.

The University encourages both faculty and students to apply their skills to the research and reflection necessary for the human resolution of these problems.

Saint Peter’s urges all members of its community – students, faculty, administrators, and alumni – to stand on the human and spiritual values fostered by their University experience and to criticize responsibly, in word and action, whatever is dehumanizing in contemporary culture.