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Englewood Cliffs Campus Alumni Celebrate Saint Peter’s

Saint Peter’s University has a deep and rich history which dates back to 1872, but the Saint Peter’s Englewood Cliffs campus has a much different story behind it. On Friday, May 3, graduates of the Englewood Cliffs campus gathered for an evening of camaraderie to celebrate their campus and to experience the new Saint Peter’s University.

The guests of the event had the opportunity to hear the unique history behind the campus firsthand from Katherine M. Restaino, Ph.D., the founding dean of the Englewood Cliffs campus. Restaino established and served the campus for more than 20 years.

In appreciation for her service and leadership, Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University, and Marylou Yam, Ph.D., provost and academic vice president of Saint Peter’s University, presented Dr. Restaino with the The Petrean Medal for Leadership.

“Dr. Restaino left a legacy of extraordinary and dedicated leadership,” said Yam. “She was in the forefront and always an advocate of the adult-friendly learning environment. Most importantly, Katherine epitomized the spirit of cura personalis.”

The Englewood Cliffs campus opened in 1975 to serve adult students, particularly those who were returning to school to earn a bachelor’s degree. Restaino became the founding dean of the Englewood Cliffs campus in 1975 and served in that role until 1996 when she became academic dean of undergraduate, evening and summer programs in Jersey City, which she remained until her retirement in 1999, at which time she was honored with the title professor dean emerita. As founding dean, she established the Englewood Cliffs campus, creating offices, staff, the library, structural spaces, student services and administrative processes and policies. She marketed and expanded programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Restaino shared fond memories of the very beginnings at the Englewood Cliffs campus where the first class of 100 students was enrolled with a tuition of $45 per credit. “This campus was sheer gratification for me,” said Restaino. “It was the best job I ever had. I thank everyone who was ever associated with the campus, as a faculty member or a student, because you gave me great joy and great fulfillment.”

The first class of the Englewood Cliffs campus graduated in 1977 and a member of that class was present at the event along with many alumni from a wide-range of class years. The guests had the opportunity to hear about the benefits of university status from Dr. Cornacchia and updates from the Jersey City campus, but they also learned of the future plans for the Englewood Cliffs campus.

“Our nursing students are thriving on this campus, our doctorate in education in higher education is headquartered here and beginning this fall, our new professional sales concentration will be offered here,” said Cornacchia. “But we aren’t stopping there. We plan to invest a lot of energy in to positioning the Englewood Cliffs campus as a destination for students in Bergen County and the surrounding areas. We are working diligently to form relationships with the businesses in this area and to work side by side with the Englewood Cliffs community on many initiatives and projects.”

Attendees of the event also spent the evening sharing stories and reminiscing about the time they spent at Saint Peter’s Englewood Cliffs campus. Elaine Mauro Cigolini ’83 went to secretarial school before she decided she would pursue a bachelor’s degree in marketing. “I chose this campus because it was made up of adult students,” she said. “By the time I decided to go back to school I was already working and I didn’t want to be a part of a typical undergraduate class. At the Englewood Cliffs campus I found a lot of great interaction with classmates who were also working professionals.”

Rita Giacomelti ’88 had a similar experience. She also attended secretarial school, but in order to be able to really support herself she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business. “What I loved the most about Saint Peter’s in Englewood Cliffs is that we had such small classes,” she said. “You couldn’t get lost in a class because the professors knew you and you had to be involved.”

The stories, connections and excitement made for a memorable evening, but in the words of Dr. Cornacchia there is more to look forward to. “I can assure you that the best is yet to come for Saint Peter’s University and our Englewood Cliffs campus!”