Saint Peter's President Shares Impact of a Diverse Campus
Eugene Cornacchia, President of Saint Peter’s University, explains how the diversity of a college campus can enrich students' lives and have a lasting impact. Dr. Cornacchia also shares the impact the 2016 presidential election had on the Saint Peter’s University campus and the role the University has to play to ensure civil democracy.
"I love that music. It's very presidential. I don't know what it is. Hi, I'm Steve Adubato. Welcome to State of Affairs. Coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in beautiful Newark, New Jersey. We welcome our good friend, Dr. Gene... Eugene... Gene Cornacchia who is president of St. Peter’s University based in beautiful? Jersey City. Your mayor keeps saying that they're going to be the biggest, most populated city in the state one day. We'll have that discussion another day. They will Gene, talk to us about a couple of things. Affordability. Access to higher education. Huge issues today, right? Yeah. Very big. Because? Well, especially after the great recession, as families have struggled economically, their resource base is much diminished. So affording a good quality higher degree has become a real challenge for them and so that's why state aid programs such as the TAG program are... Tuition Aid Grant? Tuition Aid Grant. Explain why that's so important. Well, it's important because what it does is the state provides, in New Jersey, we're fortunate, for all of our complaints about the dangers of eliminating it or reducing it, New Jersey is generous in terms of the aid it provides college students with this grant. So for example, in the independent sector, the private sector, the highest grant is $12,400 a year. So, if you think about how that helps close that gap for private higher education. Is it at risk? Is Tuition Aid Grant at risk? Well, it's always at risk. I think that's the challenge. The state's budget is always under stress. The grant has not risen sufficiently to cover the increasing cost. Is that a de facto decrease? It is. I know people are happy that it's stayed the same. Right. But if inflation is there? Right. Costs go up? Right, right. Keeping it the same? Right. So, we haven't actually experienced direct cuts. It's the buying power that's eroded as a result of inflation. But there are always some threats. When the budget is under stress, there's this huge pension problem, there are all these threats... Hmm. ...for the budget, we always worry that there's going to be something that's going to undermine the TAG program. When I visited your university at St. Peter’s in Jersey City what I was struck by Gene is the diversity of your student population. Describe it. Sure. We are almost 40% Latino population now. We're a Hispanic serving institution because we exceed 25%. We're about ¼ African American and then we've got a mixture of Asians of various kinds and your traditional middle class. How does..."