Alumni Celebrate the Launch of Education Affinity Group

Saint Peter’s University has alumni affinity groups in the fields of finance, healthcare and law, but on October 21, the University celebrated the launch of the Alumni in Education Network, and what better place to celebrate than the new home of the School of Education on the Jersey City campus?

Alumni, faculty, administration and current students gathered in the McIntyre Conference Center for the inaugural event, which afforded the alumni the opportunity to network, take tours of the new School of Education and to hear a keynote address from David Hespe, acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education.

The goal of the Network is to unite thousands of Saint Peter’s alumni who are either graduates of the School of Education or who are currently working in education to learn and exchange ideas, to expand and explore new professional relationships and to connect and engage with the University. The room was packed with alumni who came to the event for a variety of reasons.

Gerard Dalton ’88, studied business at Saint Peter’s, but came back for his master’s in education. Dalton has been working in the field for 23 years and currently serves as the assistant superintendent for the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District. “After passing through Jersey City over the years and seeing all of the changes on campus, I was looking forward to getting a firsthand look,” he said.

Gayle Colucci ’80, a sixth grade teacher in Cranford, and Patricia Gonzalez ’82, a kindergarten teacher in Bayonne, made the trip back to campus to see their professors.

“I graduated in 1980, came back to Saint Peter’s for my master’s degree in 1984 and later worked as an adjunct supervisor for student teachers in the School of Education for a number of years,” said Colucci. “I even had a recent Saint Peter’s student as my teacher’s assistant. We have really stayed connected to the University, but we jumped at the chance to come back and see our former professors.”

Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University, welcomed the group and shared the announcement of plans for a year-long campaign to raise vital funds for the School of Education with the dream to name it in honor of Patrick J. Caulfield, Ph.D. ’47. Caulfield is recognized as the founding father of the School of Education at Saint Peter’s University. He also founded the graduate program in education and the Reading Center.

“It’s a great day for us because we are here to celebrate the new facility, the new affinity group and to recognize someone whose great efforts and foresight led him to begin the education program,” said Hon. Joseph Doria Jr. ’68, dean of the School of Education.

The keynote speaker, Hespe, was appointed acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education on March 20, 2014. He previously served as the education commissioner, assistant commissioner for the Division of Executive Service​s and chief of staff during the first term of the Christie Administration.

In addition to his experience at the Department of Education, Hespe most recently served as president and chief executive officer of Burlington County College​. He also served as an associate professor of educational leadership at Rowan University’s College of Education, where he was department chair for five years​, as well as the assistant superintendent and interim superintend​ent of schools for the Willingboro School Distric​t.

The group thoroughly enjoyed Hespe’s address, in which he discussed a wide variety of issues in education today, ranging from the common core standards to the student achievement gap. But most importantly he touched on what makes a good teacher.

“I believe people go where they can do the most good in life,” said Hespe. “None of our jobs are easy, but we have this moral passion that we are here because we believe we can make a difference in children’s lives.”

Students, such as Anum Khan ’15, who is currently studying education at the University, gave alumni tours of the new facilities. “This is my last semester before I begin student teaching so I was happy to volunteer at this event. I already got some business cards!” she said.

Alumni had the opportunity to see the new center for collaborative learning, the student and faculty research space, the curriculum resource media center and the technology-enhanced project and seminar rooms.

The event would not have been possible without the support of the Alumni in Education Host Committee, which includes Robert J. Donato ’65, RPND Consultants, LLC and retired principal of Dickinson High School; Dr. Joseph A. Giammarella ’71, principal of High Tech High School; Nadia E. Makar ’69, science supervisor for Union City High School/Academy for Enrichment and Advancement; Vincent J. McFadden ’67, executive county school business administrator for the State of New Jersey Hudson County Office; and Dr. Joseph Sirangelo ’71, assistant superintendent for Hudson County Schools of Technology.

To learn more about Caulfield or investing in the School of Education, please click here.

To join the Alumni in Education group on LinkedIn, please click here.