Hearts & Minds: The Saint Peter’s University Scholarship Celebration to Honor President Eugene J. Cornacchia and the Conclusion of Peacocks Rise: The Campaign for Saint Peter’s University

Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University

Jersey City, N.J. – January 30, 2024 – Saint Peter’s University today announced that this year’s Hearts & Minds: The Saint Peter’s University Scholarship Celebration will honor Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s University. The event, which will be held on Thursday, June 13 at The Grove at Cedar Grove, N.J., will also celebrate the anticipated successful conclusion of Peacocks Rise: The Campaign for Saint Peter’s University

Dr. Cornacchia will be presented with the Magis Award in recognition of his deep and admirable commitment to the advancement of education. This award is being bestowed in appreciation of his steadfast dedication, stellar achievements and unwavering service to Saint Peter’s for more than 40 years. Dr. Cornacchia will be retiring at the end of his current contract on June 30, 2024.

Peacocks Rise is Saint Peter’s current comprehensive fundraising campaign and is the most ambitious in the University’s 150+ year history. Its public phase was launched in December 2022 with $70 million secured during its quiet phase alone, breaking previous records. Since the public launch the University has raised an additional $9 million and the total amount will be revealed at the Hearts & Minds celebration. 

“President Cornacchia’s impact on the University is beyond compare, and the record-breaking conclusion of Peacocks Rise is in many ways the capstone of his career at Saint Peter’s,” said Leah Leto, M.Ed. ’05, vice president for advancement and external affairs at Saint Peter’s University. “We look forward to coming together to celebrate Dr. Cornacchia’s legacy, this momentous occasion and the generous donors who are making the unprecedented success of Peacocks Rise possible.”

Dr. Cornacchia is the 22nd president of Saint Peter’s University, the longest-serving president in the University’s history. He began his term as the first lay president in 2007 and has had a distinguished tenure marked by transformative leadership, unwavering dedication and a fierce commitment to academic excellence and the Jesuit mission. During his time as president he guided the University through a period of growth, innovation and unparalleled progress, including the achievement of university status. 

On the academic front, his tenure saw the strategic expansion of academic programs resulting in a 50 percent increase in graduate students, the initiation of the institution’s first doctoral programs and the establishment of three of the four schools at the University including the Frank J. Guarini School of Business, a School of Nursing and the Caulfield School of Education. In terms of the physical campus, he oversaw the construction of the Mac Mahon Student Center, Panepinto Hall, the creation of the Run Baby Run Arena, the addition of the Digital Research Commons in the Theresa and Edward O’Toole Library, and the creation of the STEM Empowerment Center, among many other projects. 

Dr. Cornacchia served as a brand champion when the University was thrust into the national and international spotlight following the historic run of the men’s basketball team to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament in 2022. He also successfully navigated the institution through the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on the health and safety of the community as well as the continuity of education.

Dr. Cornacchia previously set fundraising records, securing $64.7 million for Students at the Center: The Campaign for Saint Peter’s University in 2014. Beyond private fundraising success, the University also secured more than $25 million in federal grants during Dr. Cornacchia’s tenure.

Guests of the event will enjoy a dinner reception, awards presentation and live fund-a-scholar auction to raise money for the General Scholarship Fund in real-time.  Attendees will also have the opportunity to personally acknowledge Dr. Cornacchia and celebrate him through interactive experiences. To purchase tickets or learn more about sponsorship opportunities or advertisements in a printed commemorative journal , please email heartsandminds@saintpeters.edu.     

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For more than 150 years, 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, doctoral and professional programs to excel intellectually, lead ethically, serve compassionately and promote justice in our ever-changing urban and global environment. To learn more, please visit www.saintpeters.edu.


Media Contact
Angeline Boyer
(201) 761-6238

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