Celebrating 25 Years As a Hispanic Serving Institution

2023-2024 is the year to celebrate Saint Peter’s standing as a leading Hispanic Serving Institution and the many contributions of our Latino/a/x students, faculty and alumni.
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The milestone anniversary of Saint Peter’s University becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution is more than a celebration. It’s an opportunity to showcase the historical and cultural significance of HSI status, recognize contributions of faculty, students and alumni of Hispanic heritage, enhance pride and promote the University as a leading HSI institution.

The task force of faculty, administrators, alumni and students will focus on three areas: programming and events; the history, development and impact of the University’s status as an HSI; and communicating and promoting the history and points of pride to the Saint Peter’s community and a wider audience. The group is also thinking beyond the 25th anniversary and  interested in finding ways to keep the energy behind the 25th anniversary alive.

Task force members include Jennifer  Ayala, professor of sociology and director of Latino studies;  Alicia D’Amato, director of the Center for English Language Acquisition and Culture; Virginia Bender, Ph.D. ’78, special assistant to the president for institutional planning and task force co-chair; Daria Allen, assistant dean of students; Silvia Cabreja, senior assistant director, admissions; Taina Cutler, executive director, CEEL; Ernabel Demillo, M.S., chair and lecturer of communication; Maryellen Hamilton, Ph.D., professor of psychology; Liliana Huerta Murcia, M.B.A. ’23, assistant director of alumni engagement; Devin Heyward, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology and director of DEI; Tamara Massay-Trotz, M.P.A., associate dean academic engagement and student success; Frank Rivera, M.S., director of military & veterans services; University Jesuit Associate Rev. Luis Tempe, S.J.; Carlos Tapia, Ph.D., associate  professor of modern & classical languages; Maria Torres Menes ’24; Edgar Valdez, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy; and Michelle Perez ’16, alumni board president. 

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For more than 150 years, the Saint Peter’s story has always been about providing opportunity to students who need it most.

As an anchor institution in Jersey City—one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the nation—the University has been a gateway for those seeking pathways to better, purpose-fueled lives. As Hispanic communities, and in particular the Cuban-American population in Union City, grew in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, so did the numbers of Latino/a/x students on our campus. In 1998, the U.S. Department of Education named Saint Peter’s University a Hispanic Serving Institution, a designation given to accredited public or private, nonprofit institutions of higher education where Hispanic or Latino/a/x students compose 25 percent or more of full-time undergraduate enrollment. Enrollment numbers are just one facet of HSI status. Institutional pride and the recognition the University has garnered as a leading HSI stems from our history and mission to advance the success of promising students. Here is a snapshot of facts, distinctions and achievements Saint Peter’s has attained since achieving the HSI milestone.

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47% of full-time undergraduates at Saint Peter’s are Hispanic hailing from 13 Latin American countries. The threshold for federal HSI status is Hispanic enrollment of 25% of full-time undergraduates. 

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Saint Peter’s is the first designated HSI among the 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. in the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and for nearly 25 years the only designated HSI among Jesuit institutions of higher learning.

Seal of Excellence for Institutions Serving Latinos.

Saint Peter’s University was named a national finalist in 2019 for the Seal of Excelencia designation awarded by Excelencia in Education, the advocacy organization for Latino/a/x student achievement. 

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Saint Peter’s was the first among  private colleges and universities in New Jersey to attain Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status, a noteworthy distinction it secured in 1998.

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$17 million awarded to Saint Peter’s across six federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education and National Science Foundation since 2000 to support the success of Hispanic and low-income students.

These investments have funded:

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Technology, Classroom, Laboratory and
Library upgrades

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CELAC (Center for English Language Acquisition and Culture)
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STEM Engagement and Empowerment Center
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Student research assistantships
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STEM internships and experiential learning
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Online learning training and course development initiatives
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Extensive faculty professional development

Events planned during National HSI Week

September 11 – Panepinto Plaza, noon – HSI Banner Unveiling

September 13 – St. Aedan’s Church, 11:00 a.m. – The annual Mass of the Holy Spirit will include Spanish music and prayers. The campus picnic after Mass will feature Latin food and a special HSI anniversary dessert.

September 14 – The Duncan Family Sky Room – Storytelling through Afro-Puerto Rican Folkloric dance featuring Segunda Quimbaba. This event is followed by a mini-parade led by the student organization LASO.

September 17 – The Duncan Family Sky Room, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – TRansformative EXperience (TREX) Celebration Brunch – The TREX Program provides opportunities for students in STEM majors to engage in paid internships that also count for academic credit. The program was established in 2018 with support from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program. Since its inception TREX has placed more than 200 students in hands-on positions. This brunch brings together current students and alumni who participated in the TREX program, along with the grant team.

Learn more via this press release and Saint Peter’s University magazine.