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RCSJ, SPU Celebrate New Transfer Partnership with Special Ceremony

Saint Peter’s University
Seated at the table from L-R: Almarie Jones, vice president and chief diversity officer of Diversity and Equity/Title IX; Dr. Fred Keating, RCSJ president; Dr. Eugene J. Cornacchia, SPU president; Dr. Frederick Bonato, executive vice president and provost, SPU. Directly behind Dr. Bonato from L-R: Jim Piccone, vice president, chief administrative officer, RCSJ; Iris Torres, co-chair, Hispanic Advisory Board and director, TRIO/Student Support Services; Cody Miller, New Jersey Assemblyman and director, Foundation and Alumni Relations, RCSJ.​​

Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) and Saint Peter’s University (SPU) signed a transfer partnership agreement at a ceremony to celebrate their new collaboration. This special event was held on March 19 at the Guaracini Center, located on the College’s Cumberland campus.

Officials, administrators, and educators from both colleges were in attendance and assembled with RCSJ students, faculty, and staff for the celebration.

This partnership agreement will expand opportunities for RCSJ graduates by providing them with a streamlined path to transfer into SPU and pursue one of its many undergraduate programs, along with scholarship opportunities.

“During the pandemic, we created the Strategic Action Plan,” said Almarie Jones, vice president and chief diversity officer of Diversity and Equity/Title IX and compliance at RCSJ. “One of the things that we promised to do and one of the objectives that was given to us from the faculty and staff who served on the committee was ‘What can we do to remove barriers for the students?’

“So, the whole purpose of what we’re doing today is to remove barriers for students who are planning on transferring. The transfer process is [challenging] and anything we can do to make it seamless; we’re going to do that.”

This unique partnership between RCSJ and SPU also brings together two New Jersey higher educational institutions who are also well-respected for understanding the benefits of supporting cultural diversity.

“This campus here, in Cumberland County, is a Hispanic Serving Institution by recognition of the federal and the state government. So, this is the heart and soul of the mission of the institution,” said Dr. Frederick Keating, president, RCSJ, who also gave a shout out to SPU and its men’s basketball team for making it to the NCAA March Madness Division I Basketball Tournament. “I believe education is the great equalizer and as a first-generation student myself, it’s embedded in me too – from a different perspective.”

“Along with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), we at RCSJ have elected to spread our wings to have attachment and affiliation to those who specifically marked their college or university programs for those populations of support and need with regard to higher education, availability, access, and affordability,” he continued. “This College is proud to be a partner with Saint Peter’s with regard to our Hispanic serving population of students.”

“We are serving a population of students that is going to have access to a pathway that’s going to make education affordable and accessible,” said Cody Miller, New Jersey Assemblyman and director of the RCSJ Foundation and Alumni Relations. “We look forward to this continued partnership. I know it’s going to be beneficial for our students.”

SPU, located in Jersey City, NJ, is inspired by its Jesuit, Catholic identity and educates a diverse community of learners in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs.

“We have [more than] 65 different countries and nationalities represented in our student body,” said Dr. Eugene J. Cornacchia, president, SPU. “Forty-five percent of our student body is Hispanic. You will find a home at Saint Peter’s [and] you will see yourself in the student population. It’s just a remarkable place where everyone comes together to ensure your success as you go forward.”

“We’re celebrating our 25th year as an HSI,” added Dr. Frederick Bonato, executive vice president and provost, SPU, whose revelation about the anniversary caused event attendees to applaud. “We have a really good track record with transfer students at Saint Peters. Students here may want to go up to Jersey City [which is] very different from Vineland.

“But isn’t that part of education – to experience different things? We would welcome [RCSJ students] wholeheartedly … to our campus. So, please send them our way. We’d be happy to educate and take care of them.”

Iris Torres, co-chair, Hispanic Advisory Board and director, TRIO/Student Support Services, is excited about the educational collaboration between the two institutions.

“Not only is Saint Peter’s an HSI but it is also a TRIO school. This means they create an inclusive environment focused on the needs of First-Generation Hispanic and minority, low-income students,” she said. “They have programs to assist and benefit these special populations, which is a win/win for any student, but especially our students.

“Hopefully, our students can transfer with confidence that they will have the support and guidance they need to be successful on a rural campus near a major city in a culturally diverse area just like they had at RCSJ.”

Students at Saint Peter's event.jpg​From L-R: Sofia Lopez Rosales, Jacselyn Osorio, and Yazmine Rico Cruz.​

During the event, Biological Science/Health Science major, Sofia Lopez Rosales – who was joined by fellow students Yazmine Rico Cruz, who is double ​​majoring in Biological Science/Health Science and Psychology and Jacselyn Osorio, a Biological Science/Health Science major – spoke about the meaningful impact the partnership can have on students.

“I believe it’s a great opportunity,” Rosales said. “I’m a part of Adelante Juntos, which is a First-Generation program that helps students enter their new pathway into college. As a student in the program, I’ve experienced first-hand dedicated support that has helped me academically and personally.”

“Because of Adelante Juntos,” she continued, “I am now prepared to take my next step. I’m thankful to RCSJ for building a pathway of opportunity so I can continue my HSI experience. I also want to give a quick thanks to Saint Peter’s for working with RCSJ to make this pathway possible. Knowing that Saint Peter’s has our back with resources that can help us transfer to a four-year institution [is] great.”

For more information about Rowan College of South Jersey HSI Partnerships, visit​​.​

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