Diversity & Inclusion

Group of faculty, staff and students at Black History Month flag raising

Diversity & Inclusion

Stockton accepts its responsibility to create and preserve an environment that is free from prejudice and discrimination and to take actions that affirm our commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

Stockton Earns 4th National Diversity Award

A diverse group of students pose outside of the Campus Center
The HEED award is the only national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion across their campus.

Last fall, Stockton University received its fourth national Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine in Washington, D.C. The award recognizes the diversity and inclusion efforts of the University, which also previously won awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“The fact that this is our fourth award is a tribute to the ongoing, campus-wide commitment of University faculty, staff and students,” said President Harvey Kesselman.

Stockton Chief Officer for Diversity and Inclusion Valerie Hayes said the application process and subsequent award serves not just as recognition for the work at Stockton, but also an opportunity to learn what other universities are doing.

Among the accomplishments included in the 2021 award are:

  • The Board of Trustees passed a resolution on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice, in which the board stated that Stockton would be a leader in social justice issues.
  • The establishment of the Race and Racism Education course requirement for all students to ensure critical issues are embedded within all programs.
  • The creation of an Office of Academic Achievement Programs in the Division of Student Affairs to improve retention of Black and Latinx students.
  • The Student Senate established a Senate Diversity and Inclusion Committee that centers on supporting diverse student groups on campus and ensuring their voices are heard.
  • Development and Alumni Relations established the Alumni Conference on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in collaboration with alumni and others on campus to host virtual conversations on important topics facing Stockton and higher education.

WGSC Reaches More Women of Color with New Programming

Tierra Houston sitting in the F Wing lounge
Tierra Houston is a welcoming presence in the Women's, Gender and Sexuality Center, located in F Wing.

Stockton University’s Women’s Gender and Sexuality Center (WGSC) is broadening its programming for people of color and finding creative ways to connect with and educate students on interpersonal violence.

The WGSC received a $100,000+ GEER II Grant from the State of New Jersey last October to support this initiative, which Laurie Dutton, director of the WGSC, broke down into three goals:

  • Strengthen the WGSC’s Victim Advocacy Center by establishing a peer education program to increase awareness of the center and prevention education.
  • Increase reporting of interpersonal violence among students of color by 25%.
  • Provide peer-led awareness campaigns on interpersonal violence.

Since then, the WGSC welcomed Tierra Houston as program coordinator to help meet these goals by developing student programming. As a student majoring in Psychology and Criminal Justice, Houston has a connection with her peers who come into the center.

Ta-Nehisi Coates Encourages Diversity in Storytelling

Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates

Listening to him speak during the Pappas Visiting Scholar Series on Nov. 16, 2021, on Zoom, it is almost as if Ta-Nehisi Coates was born to be a writer. The best-selling author offered Stockton students insight into his life and book Between the World and Me, which was this year’s common reading for first-year students.

Coates spoke frankly about his upbringing, writing process and what it means to him to be a successful author while tackling themes such as racism, representation and diversity in storytelling and the importance of critical thinking. The question-and-answer-style discussion was moderated by Donnetrice Allison, professor of Africana Studies and Communication Studies.

An author, journalist, screenwriter, executive producer and soon-to-be Howard University professor, Coates has published eight books, including Between the World and Me, winning the National Book Award in 2015. In April 2018, it was adapted for the stage, premiering at the Apollo Theater. Then, in November 2020, it was adapted for film and aired on HBO.

“The minute I became a reader, I was a writer,” said Coates, who learned to read at age four. Coates credits his upbringing “in a house filled with books” for his success.

Stockton 7th in Nation for Minority, Hispanic Graduation Rates

Four female students pose with balloons and flags
Members of Los Latinos Unidos, a student organization that promotes and supports the unity of the Latino community, celebrate during University Weekend 2021.

Stockton University ranks 7th in the nation among public colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates for Hispanic students and overall minority students, according to a report issued this past spring by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The report, “Recruiting and Retaining Students in a Challenging Market,” uses federal data on retention and graduation rates and included only institutions with at least 100 eligible Hispanic students. It is based on students who entered in Fall 2013 and graduated within six years, by 2019.

Stockton’s graduation rate for that cohort of Hispanic students was 71.5% and for all minority students was 73.4%. The graduation rate for all students in that class was 77%.

By comparison, the national graduation rate for all full-time students who entered a four-year college or university in 2013 was 63%, and the completion rate for Hispanic students was 59%.

Stockton places a high priority on programs and services that help students succeed in college. Almost half of all students at Stockton are the first in their families to attend college, and 40% identify as Hispanic/Latino, Black, Asian or multi-racial.

Council of Black Faculty and Staff Celebrates 50 Years of Advocacy

The Council of Black Faculty and Staff celebrated its 50th anniversary with a “family reunion” of past and present members in the Fannie Lou Hamer Event Room at Stockton Atlantic City on Nov. 12, 2021.

“We are here to remember the past, embrace the present and look to the future,” said Vice President John Gray, instructor of Organizational Leadership, who recalled arriving at Stockton as a student aging out of foster care in 1986 and being embraced by the council members.

“A lot of us were nurtured here,” Gray told the audience. “This became my family, and I just want to say thank you. The man I am now is because of your nurturing.”

Noting that the council has been in existence since Stockton opened and during the civil rights era, President Harvey Kesselman called it “the conscience of the institution.”

“The council offered collegiality, empowerment, and a sense that we had to do the right thing and not just talk about it,” Kesselman said. “They were a watchdog. It’s because of people like Pat (Reid-Merritt) that we have this room named for (civil rights leader) Fannie Lou Hamer.”

Coming Soon! Multicultural Center

A new space in lower F Wing is currently under construction to become a learning and social space for students and guests. To support the growing diversity of Stockton's student population, the Multicultural Center will serve as a hub for student activities and inspire social justice education, dynamic dialogue and scholarship.

The approximately 4,100-square-foot space will feature spaces for small receptions, a multipurpose space with a drop-down projector screen to host viewings, small performances, speakers and more. The center will also include a 'living room' with a kitchenette, providing a space for students to relax, study and meet with other students or host student club meetings.

The Multicultural Center is expected to open in early Spring 2023.