Saint Peter’s names new president, replacing retiring Cornacchia

Saint Peter’s University has named its 23rd president, it announced Tuesday, replacing the retiring Eugene Cornacchia.

The Jersey City-based university said in a news release that Dr. Hubert Benitez will take over July 1 after his unanimous selection by the board of trustees.

Benitez, who has doctoral degrees in dentistry and higher education administration, was most recently CEO and president of American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts.

“With his outstanding academic credentials, considerable experience and dynamic leadership, the board and I are confident that Dr. Benitez will not only steer the university toward continued success in its next chapter, but also be a strong advocate for our students and champion for our faculty,” Kenneth Moore, chair of the board, said in a prepared statement. “We were all deeply impressed with his Jesuit values of service and cura personalis, as well as his personally commitment to diversity, equity & inclusion.

“We are certain he is the right person to lead our institution forward, and we welcome Dr. Benitez to Saint Peter’s University.”

Before serving as president at AIC, Benitez held higher education leadership roles at Rockhurst University, Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences and others.

“I want to thank the board of trustees for the distinction of being appointed president of Saint Peter’s University,” he said in a statement. “As a person spiritually rooted in the Catholic faith, with personal values that align with those of Jesuit education and traditions, I feel blessed to be returning to Jesuit higher education and joining the Saint Peter’s community. As we begin this journey together, I look forward to working with the faculty and staff of the university, as we collectively continue to build the future of this great institution.”

Benitez, a native of Colombia, also spent 15 years as a clinician.

“I believe that, today, more than ever, our nation needs more institutions like Saint Peter’s, which educate the whole person, nurturing the personal, spiritual and professional needs of our students,” he said. “With the people, resources and education the university offers, we are very well-positioned to continue to assist our diverse student body as they enter the workforce, serve compassionately and make a difference in our communities. The possibilities at Saint Peter’s are endless.”

Cornacchia served as Saint Peter’s president for 17 years.