During President Cornacchia’s tenure, Saint Peter’s founded the Center for Microplasma Science and Technology (CMST), a national Center of Excellence and nation’s first and only scientific and educational center devoted entirely to the emerging field of microplasmas. The College also houses several educational institutes, including the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership, which provides a nonpartisan forum for discussion and analysis of key public policy issues, and the Center for Global Learning, which supports and organizes study abroad and exchange programs, faculty-led international learning opportunities and the enrollment of international students. Saint Peter’s is a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution and is recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations.
In addition to these and other significant accomplishments, President Cornacchia’s success has produced fundraising results far surpassing previous years and establishing new records to strive toward. At the close of the last fiscal year, more than $6.8 million was raised in cash, a feat that had not occurred since the 1998-1999 fiscal year. He has led Saint Peter’s through the launch of the largest capital campaign in the history of the College. Students at the Center: The Campaign for Saint Peter’s College will raise $62 million for the College’s new, state-of-the-art student center and additional priorities that include Jesuit mission and ministry, academics, athletics, growing the endowment and The Saint Peter Fund.
In addition to the student center, the campus has undergone considerable physical transformations and exceptional developments under President Cornacchia’s leadership. The College assumed responsibility for St. Aedan’s Church, transitioning the parish church into a college church. St. Aedan’s: The Saint Peter’s College Church enables the College to provide appropriate worship and programmatic space to the Saint Peter’s family and its surrounding community. The College has also partnered with a developer to transform its Armory parking lot into a world-class residence and retail destination, making Saint Peter’s and McGinley Square a key component of Jersey City’s renaissance. Other campus improvements include upgraded technology in the classrooms and new and renovated parking facilities.
In its Best Colleges 2011 guide, U.S. News & World Report ranked Saint Peter’s first among the private colleges throughout New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area in the Least Debt category, as part of the Regional Universities North division. Saint Peter’s was also ranked first among 159 institutions of higher education in the Racial Diversity category; it also holds the leading spot for Economic Diversity.
In pursuit of the Jesuit ideal of being a person for others, President Cornacchia has enthusiastically supported initiatives to encourage students, faculty and staff to engage in service opportunities. His efforts have been extremely successful. The Carnegie Foundation designated the College a Community Engaged Institution, and the College was named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which is the highest federal recognition a college can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
President Cornacchia regularly devotes time to many civic leadership organizations. He is on the board of trustees and executive committee of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. He is vice chair of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Additionally, President Cornacchia is on the board of directors for the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey, and the Independent College Fund of New Jersey.
President Cornacchia received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1976 and a master’s degree in political science in 1979 from Fordham University. He also earned a Ph.D. in political science from Fordham University in 1985. Prior to becoming the first lay president of the College and after many years of teaching at Saint Peter’s, President Cornacchia served as the College’s academic dean and then as provost and vice president for academic affairs.
President Cornacchia and his wife, AnnMarie, live in Guarini House, a residence on the College’s Jersey City campus. They have two daughters, Lauren and Katherine, and two grandchildren, Ava Yvonne and Zachary.